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THE UNQUIET GRAVE 




PALINURUS FALLING OVERBOARD IN HIS SLEEP 

from a mcgolica dish in the coUeciion of Conte Conthd •oom Acossiy 
Florence. Believed to be the only Jmmm representation of the incident. 


THE 

UNQUI,^T 

GRAVE 


A WORD CYCLE 

BY 

PALINURUS 

REVISED EDITION 
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

CYRIL CONNOLLY 



HAMISH HAMILTON 


LONDON 



First published by Horizon^ 1944 

Elevised edition published by Hamish Hamilton Ltd, 
September 1945 

Reprinted March 1946 

Second revised edition published June 1951 

Reprinted December 1952 

Reprinted January 1955 


PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 
BY WESTERN PRINTING SERVICES LTD., BRISTOL 



TO 

PETER WATSON 

A. Never Writer to an Ever Reader, NewesI 



CONTENTS 


Page 

Part I ECCE GUBERNATOR i 

Part II TE PALINURE PETENS 46 
Part III LA CLE DES CHANTS 82 
Epilogue WHO WAS PALINURUS? 126 
Index 


139 



PalinuniSj a skilful pilot of the ship of JEneas 
fell into the sea in his sleep, was three days 
exposed to the tempests and waves of the 
sea and at last came safe to the seashore near 
Velia, where the cruel inhabitants of the place 
murdered him to obtain his clothes: his body 
was left unburied on the seashore. 

LEMPRikRE 


Mox vero Lucanis pestilentia laborantibus 
respondit oraculum, Manes Palinuri esse 
placandos: ob quam rem non longe a Velia et 
lucum et cenotaphium ei dederunt. ^ 

SERVIXJS, Commentary on 
the ^neid, Bk. vi, 1. 378 


A shelfy Coast, 

Long infamous for Ships, and Sailors lost; 
And white with Bones: 

Dryden’s Virgil. 


^ Soon the Oracle gave this answer to the Lucanians, who 
were suifering from an epidemic: *The shade of Palintums must 
be appeased I* Whereupon they dedicated to him not far from 
VdUla, a Cenotaph and a Sacred Grove. 


IX 



INTRODUCTION 


It is nearly ten years since The Unquiet Grace was 
begun, long enough for a book to cease to be contem- 
porary and to start settling down to a position in time. 
With this new and revised edition, an opportunity is 
presented to show how and why it came to be written and 
to take on its present form. This may answer some of the 
criticisms to which Palinurus has not had a chance to 
reply; such as that The Unquiet Grace is merely an an- 
thology, a collection of extracts chosen with ‘outremer’ 
snobbery and masqueradii^ as a book or that, if book it 
be, then it is both morbid and depressii^. 

The Unquiet Grave is inevitably a war-booL Although 
the author tried to extricate himself from the war and to 
escape from his time and place into the bright empyrean 
of European thought, he could not long remain above 
the clouds. He was an editor living in Bedford Square 
who kept a journal in three little note-books provided by 
his wise printer between the autumn of 1943 and the 
autumn of 1943. As a man, he was suffering from a 
private grief , — a separation for which he felt to blame; 
as an editor, he was struggling against propaganda (the 
genial guidance of thought by the state which under- 
mines the love of truth and beauty); as a Londoner, 
he was affected by the dirt and weariness, the gradual 
draioing ^ away un^r war conditions of light and colour 
frmn the former capital of the world; and, lasdy, as a 
Enit^iean, he was acutely aware of being cut off from 
Fnm^ And so m kee;^ a journal for what a Bnssba 
peasant would have called his 'bade tbou^^,’ he was 



INTRODUCTION 


determined to quote as many passages as he could from 
the French to show the affinity between their thought 
and ours, and to prove how near and necessary to us 
were the minds and culture of those across the channel 
who then seemed quite cut off from us, perhaps for ever. 
To evoke a French beach at that time was to be reminded 
that beaches did not exist for mines and pill-boxes and 
barbed wire but for us to bathe from and that, one day. 
we would enjoy them again. 

We must understand the author’s obsession with 
pl^sure at a time when nearly all pleasures were 
forbidden. Besides his love of France, Palinurus also 
wished to proclaim his faith in the unity and continuity 
of Western culture in its moment of crisis. He chose his 
quotations to illustrate how we have gone on thinking 
the same things since the days of the ancient Greeks, 
how the pr^ent can always be illuminated by the past. 
He looked for sanctions rather than originality. 

Meanwhile the three notebooks filled up, while the 
personal sorrow came to a head and disappeared into a 
long false lull, like an illness. Working on the manuscript 
for another year, Pa li nurus began to see that there was a 
pattern to be brought out; in the diaries an art- form 
slumbered, — an initiation, a descent into hell, a purifica- 
tion and cure. The various themes could be given sym- 
phonic structure and be made to lead into and suggest 
each other until every paragraph became fitted into an 
inevitable position in the pilot’s periplus (or intellectual 
voy^e) from which it could not be moved. Stained by 
the juice of time, the second autumn was not quite like 
the first; the returns of grief or pleasure or religion 
aocpiired a richer orchestration, the writing had 
^vdoped the writer. There was so much to cut or to 
hnjOTve; the exploration of the Palinurus myth (which 
» mmtkased incideatally in the first article .the author 
kd to others, until one seemed always to 



INTRODUCTION 

be pursuing some new clue. It seemed also the moment 
to collate once and for all the findings of depth-psycho- 
logy with subjective feelings even if a loss to literature 
were the result. Finally the whole book had to be re-set. 
The Unquiet Grave by now consisted of thirty long 
galley-proofs scissored into little pieces like a string of 
clown’s black sausages, covered with insertions and dele- 
tions and spread out on the floor to be arranged and re- 
arranged into a mosaic. The coils of print seemed to move 
with a life of their own. With incomparable devotion, 
Lys Lubbock and Sonia Brownell, the two secretaries at 
Horizon, had typed the whole manuscript out twice and 
at last it was published from here in December 1944 
with four collotype plates in a limited edition of a 
thousand. Lys and Sonia sold copies over the counter, 
the demand grew and the expenses of the two printings 
were recovered. The identity of the author-publisher 
was never regarded as a top secret. By publishing the 
book without his name, however, more reality was given 
to the Palinurus myth and the anonymity acted as a coat 
of varnish to protect what might otherwise seem too 
personal a confession. 

The plot of the book is contained in the title. The 
Unquiet Grave first suggests the tomb of Palinurus, pilot 
of ^neas; it is the cenotaph from which he haunts us. 
‘The ghost of Palinurus must be appeased*. He is the 
core of melancholy and guilt that works destruction on 
us from within. But the title is also that of an old border 
ballad in which a lover haunts the grave of his mistress 
and troubles her sleep. 

The wind doth blow tonight, my love. 

And a few small drops of rain, 

I never had but one true love, 

In cold grave she was lain. 

xiii 



INTRODUCTION 


He remains by her grave for a year and a day (the period 
of the diary) until she dismisses him, 

The stalk is withered dry, my love. 

So win our hearts decay. 

So make yourself content, my love. 

Till God calls you away. 

In the first part, ‘Ecce Gubemator" (‘ Behold the pilot’), 
we are presented with a self-portrait of Palinurus, with 
his views on literature, love and religion, his bitter 
doubting attitude. Something is badly wrong; he has 
lost touch with his sub-conscious self, the well is 
obstructed; he is reminded of a gull fouled with oil. 
The presiding genius of this section is Pascal whose 
terrible sayings penetrate the mask and cause Palinurus 
to reveal himself and so allude for the first time to his 
private sorrow, ‘Revisit pale Chelsea’s nook-shotten 
Cythera’. Cythera was the Island of love, Shakespeare’s 
word ‘nook-shotten’ can mean full of indentations, the 
‘shelfy coast’ of the title-page or else full of nooks and 
alcoves. There follows die first allusion to Paris, ‘lost 
love, lost youth, lost Paris; remorse and folly. Aiel’ 
Pascal and Leopardi dominate because when they died 
they were the same age as Palinurus (thirty-nine). Will 
he survive them ? After considering opium as a remedy 
the pilot continues his downward rush towards the 
notion of suicide with which the section ends. ‘Te 
Palxnure petens’ (looking for you, Palinurus) b^ins with 
the worst period of the nightmare journey. The names of 
fmir friends who took their own lives are evoked, one, 
who shoots herself at this very moment, was the com- 
pankm of the ‘dark face’ from the He-Saint-Louis, most 
sacred of tibe holy places. Palinurus is soon driven to 
admit tiist all his trouble comes from Paris, and he 
mei^kms ite Rue Delambre, the Quai d’ Anjou (on the 
Island) and the Rue de Vau^rard as connected with his 



INTRODUCTION 


deepest feelings. Two new Genii preside over this 
section, Sainte-Beuve and Chamfort who bring r^pec- 
tively philosophic resignation and cynical courage to 
dispel the pessimism of Pascal and Leopardi or the 
suicidal raving of Nerval. On page 62 conies the first ray 
of hope. ‘Streets of Paris, pray for me; beaches in the 
sun, pray for me; ghosts of the Lemurs, intercede for 
me ; plane-tree and laurel-rose, shade me ; summer rain on 
quais of Toulon, wash me away.’ In the last section this 
prayer is literally answered. The title ‘La cl 6 des chants’ 
(the key to the songs) also suggests Grandville’s ‘la 
cl6 des champs.’ The nature-cure. The ferrets and lemurs 
who represent the strength and beauty of the healthy 
libido as well as the innocent paradise, the happy pagan 
honeymoon of the doomed relationship mak e their 
appearance in a kind of litany. Here the presiding genius 
is Flaubert who enriches the sensibility and stoical 
courage which he shares with the others, with the joy 
of creation. 

Baudelaire, one-time dweller in the Ile-Saint-Louis, 
also haunts this section and their common friend Sainte- 
Beuve makes a farewell appearance. 

The last movement opens with a series of alternating 
passages on the theme ‘Streets of Paris’, recalled by 
autumn mist in London, and ‘Beaches in the sun’ 
suggested by the late summer radiance. Mediterranean 
harbour scenes are followed by Atlantic sea-scapes, with 
allusions to Baudelaire at Honfleur, Proust at Houlgate 
and Flaubert at Trouville, wh^ he met his ‘fantome’ 
and dark inspirer, Madame Scfalesinger. About the 
fortieth birthday of Palinums the catharsis occurs; he 
re-lives the early stages of his love-aflEair; the walk to 
the apartment on the Ile-Saint-Louis, the Paris of the 
ex-patriates, and the year in the South of France, the 
villa Les Lauriers Roses. Describing this Paradise Lost 
brings Eden up from the dark world of the sub-cansdous 



INTRODUCTION 


where it has been festering into the daylight of art. 
The ghosts are laid and the avenging "Lemures’ become 
the affectionate lemurs, imtil the book closes with a long 
and reasoned apology for the pursuit of happiness, an 
affirmation of the values of humanism. Placated and 
placating, the soul of Palinurus drifts away; his body is 
washed up on a favourite shore. The epilogue, a pastiche 
of psycho-analytical jargon and Jungian exegesis, relieves 
the tension while closely examining the background of 
the myth. The index will help to identify quotations and 
to suggest the themes and variations of the story. 

As a signal of distress from one human being to another 
The Unquiet Grave went unanswered, but the suffering 
was alleviated. As a demonstration of the power of 
words, however, of the obsessional impetus in an 
aesthetic form to fulfil its destiny, the work was an 
object-lesson. All grief, once made known to the mind, 
can be cured by the mind, the manuscript proclaimed; 
the human brain, once it is fully functioning, as in the 
making of a poem, is outside time and place and immune 
from sorrow. *La pensee console de tout.* If The Un- 
quiet Grave, therefore, should leave an impression of 
being morbid and gloomy then its intention has not been 
fulfilled. 

Cyril Connolly 

Londm 

Demnber 1950 



PART 1 


ECCE GUBERNATOR 


The more books we read, the clearer it becomes that 
the true fimctioH of a writer is to produce a masterpiece 
and that no other task is of any consequence. Obvious 
though this should be, how few writers will admit it, 
or having drawn the conclusion, will be prepared to lay 
aside the piece of iridescent mediocrity on which they 
have embarked! Writers always hope that their next 
book is going to be their best, and will not acknowledge 
that they are prevented by their present way of Me 
from ever creating anything different. 

Every excursion into journalism, broadcasting, propa- 
ganda and writing for the films, however grandiose, 
will be doomed to disappointment To put our best into 
these is another folly, since thereby we condemn good 
ideas as well as bad to oblivion. It is in the nature of 
such work not to last, and it should never be imder- 
taken. Writers engrossed in any literary task which is 
not an assault on perfection are their own dupes and, 
unless these self-flatterers are content to dismiss such 
activity as their contribution to the war effort, they mi^t 
as well be peeling potatoes. 

'Les plus forts y ont p6ri. L’art est un luxe; il veut 
des mains blanches et cahnes. On fait d’abord une petite 
concession, puis deux, puis vingt. On s’illusionne sur sa 
morality pendant longtemps. Puis on s’en fout com- 
pletement et puis on devient imbecile.’ — ^FLAUBERT. 

B 


I 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Poets arguing about wartime poetry: jackals snarling 
over a dried-up well. 

How many books did Renoir write on how to paint ? 

To fashion a golden book, to weave a suit that will last 
some hundred years, it is necessary to feel, to think, and 
to write. These three activities must be co-ordinated. 
'Bien ^crire c’est a la fois bien sentir, bien penser et 
bien dire/ — ^buffon. 

We cannot think if we have no time to read, nor feel 
if we are emotionally exhausted, nor out of cheap material 
create what is pennanent. We cannot co-ordinate what 
is not there. 

What is a masterpiece? Let me name a few. The Odes 
and Epistles of Horace, the Eclogues and Georgies of 
Virgil, the Testament of Villon, the Essays of Montaigne, 
the Fables of La Fontaine, the Maxims of La Roche- 
foucauld and La Bruyere, the Fleurs du Mai and Inti- 
mate Journals of Baudelaire, the Poems of Pope and 
Leopardi, the llluTninaiions of Rimbaud, and Byron’s 
Don Juan. 

Such a catalogue reveals the maker. What is common 
in thought to these twelve writers? Love of life and 
namre; lack of belief in the idea of progress; interest in, 
mingled with contempt, for humanity. All are what 
Palinurus has been called by a critic: * Earthbound’ ! 
Yet all more adult and less romantic than he. These 
masterpieces then, (mostly high peaks of the secondary 
range), reflect either what he would like to be, or a self 
to which he is afraid of confessing. He would like to 
have written L,es I leurs du Mol or the Saison en Ejifer 
wW^ut being Rimbaud or Baudelaire, that is without 
HBdeigoing their mental suffering and without being 
mses^sid and poor. 

2 



ECCE GTJBERNATOR 


In feeling, these works of art contain the maximum 
of emotion compatible with a classical sense of form. 

Observe how they are written; many are short and 
compressed, fruit of reflective and contemplative 
natures, prose or poetry of great formal beauty and 
economy of phrase. There are no novels, plays or bio- 
graphies included in the list and the poetry is of a kind 
which speculates about life. They have been chosen by 
one who most values the art which is distilled and crystal- 
lized out of a lucid, curious and passionate imagination. 
All these writers enjoy something in common, ‘ jusqu*au 
sombre plaisir d’un coeur melancolique*: a sense of 
perfection and a faith in human dignity, combined with 
a tragic apprehending of our mortal situation, and our 
nearness to the Ab3^. 

We can deduce then that the compiler should set 
himself to write after these models. Ho'wever unfavour- 
able the conditions for the birth of a classic, he can 
at least attempt to work at the same level of intention 
as the Sacred Twelve. Spiritualize the Earthboxind, 
Palinurus, and don’t aim too high! 

What follow are the doubts and reflections of a year, a 
word-cycle in three or four rhythms; art, love, nature 
and religion ; an experiment in self-dismantling, a search 
for the obstruction which is blocking the flow from the 
well and whereby the name of Palinurus is becoming 
an archetype of frustration. 

As we grow older we discover that what seemed at the 
time an absorbing interest or preoccupation which we 
had taken up and thrown over, was in reality an appetite 
or passion which had swept over us and passed on, 
xmtil at last we come to see that our life has no more 
continuity than a pool in the rocks filled by the tide 
with foam and flotsam and then emptied. Nothing 
remains of the self but the sediment which this flux 

3 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

deposits; ambergris valuable only to those who know 
its use. 

‘Dry again?’ said the Crab to the Rock-Pool, ‘ So would 
you be,’ replied the Rock-Pool, ‘if you had to satisfy, 
twice a day, the insatiable sea.’ 

As we grow older, in fact, we discover that the lives 
of most human beings are worthless except in so far as 
they contribute to the enrichment and emancipation of 
the spirit. However attractive in our youth the animal 
graces may seem, if by our maturity they have not led 
us to emend one character in the corrupt text of exis- 
tence, then our time has been wasted. No one over 
thirty-five is worth meeting who has not something to 
teach us, — something more than we could learn by 
ourselves, from a book. 

Love and Anxiety 

A hvefs 

‘The sixth age is ascribed to Jupiter, in which we begin 
to lake ^count of our time, to judge of ourselves, and 
grow to the perfection of our understanding; the last and 
seventh age to Saturn, wherein our days are sad and 
overeat and in which we find by dear and lamentable 
experience, and by the loss which can never be repaired, 
that of all our vain passions and affections past, the 
aorrowonly ^ideth.— SIR Walter raleigh. 

There is no pain ecpial to that which two lovers 
inflict on one another- This should be made clear to 
^ wbo contenplate such a union. The avoidance of 
this pain is the b^ionmg of wisdom, for it is strong 
enough to ^taminate rest of our lives; and since 
can be minimized by obeying a few simple rules, rules 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


which approximate to Christian marriage, they provide, 
even to the unbeliever, its de facto justification. It is when 
we begin to hurt those whom we love that the guilt 
with which we are bom becomes intolerable, and since 
all those wrhom w^e love intensely and continuously grow 
part of us, and as we hate ourselves in them, so we 
torture ourselves and them together. 

The object of Loving is a release from Love. We achieve 
this through a series of unfortunate love affairs or, with- 
out a death-rattle, through one that is happy. 

Complete physical union between two people is the 
rarest sensation which life can provide — and yet not 
quite real, for it stops when the telephone rings. Such 
a passion can be maintained at full strength only by 
the admixture of more unhappiness (jealousy, rows, 
renunciation) or more and more artificiality (alcohol 
and other technical illusions). Who escapes this heaven 
may never have lived, who exists for it alone is soon 
extinguished. 

We pay for vice by the knowledge that we are wicked: 
we pay for pleasure when we find out, too late, that we 
are disappearing. 

‘Pleasure seizes the whole man who addicts himself to 
it, and will not give him leisure for any good office in 
life which contradicts the gaiety of the present hour. 
You may indeed observe in people of pleasure a certain 
complacency and absence of all severity, which the 
habit of a loose and unconcerned life gives them; but 
tell the man of pleasure your secret wants, cares, or 
sorrows, and you will find that he has given up the 
delicacy of his passions to the craving of his appetites.’ — 
STEELE. 


5 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Beneath a mask of selfish tranquillity nothing exists 
except bitterness and boredom. I am one of those whom 
suffering has made empty and frivolous : every night in 
my dreams I pull the scab off a wound; every day, 
vacuous and habit-ridden, I help it re-form. 

When I contemplate the accumulation of guilt and 
remorse which, like a garbage-can, I carry through life, 
and which is fed not only by the lightest action but by 
the most harmless pleasure, I feel Man to be of all 
living things the most biologically incompetent and ill- 
organized, Why has he acquired a seventy years’ 
life-span only to poison it incurably by the mere being 
of himself? Why has he thrown Conscience, like a dead 
rat, to putrefy in the weE? 

It is no answer to say that we are meant to rid ourselves 
of the self: religions like Christianity and Buddhism are 
desperate stratagems of failure, the failure of men to be 
men. As escapes from the problem, as flights from guilt, 
they may be welcome, but they cannot turn out to be 
the revelation of our destiny. What should we think 
of dogs’ monasteries, hermit cats, vegetarian tigers? 
Of birds who tore off their wings or bulls weeping with 
remorse ? Surely it is in our nature to realize ourselves, 
yet there re m ains the deadly flaw by which we feel 
most guilty when we are most confidently human and 
are most to be pitied when most successful. Is this 
because Christianity is true ? Or is it an ingrained effect 
of propaganda for the under-dog? When did the ego 
begin to stink? Those of us who were brought up as 
Christiaiis and have lost our faith have retained the 
sense of sin without the saving belief in redemption. 
This poisons our thought and so paralyses us in action. 

Commumsm is the new religion which denies original 
sin, tho^h seldom do we meet a real Communist who 
^ems either coa^lete or happy. And yet Original Sin, 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


what rubbish! The Expulsion from Eden is an act of 
vindictive womanish spite; the Fall of Man, as recounted 
in the Bible, comes nearer to the Fall of God. 

When I consider what I believe, which I can do only 
by proceeding from \vhat I do not, I seem in a minority 
of one, — and yet I know that there are thousands like 
me: Liberals without a belief in progress. Democrats 
who despise their fellow-men, Pagans who must live 
by Christian morals, Intellectuals who cannot find the 
intellect suiSicient, — unsatisfied Materialists, we are as 
common as clay. 

But there can be no going back to Christianity nor can 
I inhabit an edifice of truth which seems built upon a 
base of falsehood. The contradictions will out; hence 
the terrible record of the Church, which ‘brings not 
peace, but a sword* — her persecutions, her cupidity, 
her hypocrisy, her reaction. These are inherent in her 
nature as a jealous, worldly, and dogmatic body; and 
because of these the Church, whenever strong enough 
to do so, has always belied her spiritual claims. 

How privileged are Mahommedansl Small wonder there 
are more of them than of any other religion and that 
they are still making converts; for their creed is extro- 
verted, — ^the more fanatical they become, the faster 
they relieve themselves by killing other people. They 
observe a dignified ritual, a congenial marriage code and 
appear to be without the sense of guilt. 

In my religion aU believers would stop work at sxmdown 
and have a drink together ‘pom: chasser la honte du 
jour.* This would be taken in remembrance of the first 
sunset when man must have thought the oncoming 
night would prove eternal, and in honour of the gift of 

7 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

wine to Noah, as a relief from the abysmal boredom of 
the brave new world after the flood. Hence the institution 
of my ‘Sundowner^ with which all believers, whether 
acquainted or not, would render holy that moment of 
nostalgia and evening apprehension. Brevis hie est 
fmetus komullis. In my religion there would be no 
exclusive doctrine; all would be love, poetry and doubt. 
Life would be sacred, because it is all we have and 
death, our common denominator, the fountain of con- 
sideration. The Cycle of the Seasons would be rhyth- 
mically celebrated together with the Seven Ages of 
Man, his Identity with all living things, his glorious 
Reason, and his sacred Instinctual Drives. 

Ah, see how on lonely airfield and hill petrol-station 
the images of Freud and Frazer are wreathed in flowers! 
From Wabash to Humber the girls are laimching their 
fast-perishing gardens of Adonis far out on to the 
stream; with sacred rumbas and boogie-woogies the Id 
is being honoured in all the Hangars, the Priestess 
intones long passages of the liturgy to which it is most 
partial; boastful genealogies and anecdotes of the 
Pomocrats, voodoo incantations, oceans of gibberish from 
Maldoror and Finnegans Wake! In a rapture of kisses 
the river-gods return, till Pan and Priapus in their red 
bowler-hats give way to Human Reason, Human Reason 
to Divine Love, ‘Caelestis Venus’, and Divine Love to 
the g3rrations of the Planets through the bright selfless 
wsetes of the Aether. 

*The ideal, cheerful, sensuous, pagan life is not sick or 
sorry. No; yet its natural end is the sort of life which 
Pompeii and Herculaneum bring so vividly before us, — 
a life which by no means in itself suggests the thought of 
horror and misery, which even, in many ways, gratifies 
the senses and the understanding; but by the very 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


intensity and unremittingness of its appeal to the senses 
‘^nd the understanding, by its stimulating a single side 
of us too absolutely, ends by fatiguing and revolting us; 
ends by leaving us with a sense of confinement, of 
oppression, — ^with a desire for an utter change, for clouds, 
storms, effusion and relief.’ — ^Matthew Arnold. 

This argument is often used against Paganism. It is 
no more true to say that Pompeii and Herculaneum 
express what is finest in paganism, than that Blackpool 
and Juan-les-Pins represent the best in Christianity. A 
life based on reason wiU always require to be balanced 
by an occasional bout of violent and irrational emotion, 
for the instinctual drives must be satisfied. In the past 
this gratification was provided by the mystery religions, 
somewhat grossly by the cults of the Great Mother, 
more spiritually by the Eleusinian and Orphic mysteries. 
Where Apollo reigns, Dion3"sus will follow. 

Ancestor, my old incarnation, O Palinurus Vulgcnris, the 
Venetian red crawfish, langouste, or rock-lobster, whether 
feeding on the spumy Mauretanian Banks, or undulating 
— southward to Teneriffe, northward to Sdlly — ^in the 
systole and diastole of the wave: free me from guilt and 
fear, free me from guilt and fear, dapple-plated scavenger 
of the resounding sea! 

My previous incarnations: a melon a lobster, a lemur, a 
bottle of wine, Aristippus. 

Periods when I lived: the Augustan age in Rome, 
in Paris and London from 1660 to 1740, and lastly 
from 1770 to 1850. 

My friends in the first were Horace, Tibullus, Petronius 
and Virgil; in the second: Rochester, Congreve, La 

9 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Fontaine, La Bruyere, La Rochefoucauld, Saint Evre- 
mond, Dr\’-den, Halifax, Pope, Swift, Racine, Hume, 
Voltaire; while in the last avatar I frequented Walpole 
and Gibbon; Byron, Fox, Beckford, and Stendhal, 
Tennyson, Baudelaire, Nerval and Flaubert, — After- 
noons at Holland House, dinners chez Magny. 

There are some fruits which awaken in me feelings 
deeper than appetite. When I contemplate the musky 
golden orb of the sugar-melon or the green and brown 
seaweed markings of the tiger cantaloup, the scales of 
the pine-apple or the texture of figs and nectarines, the 
disposition of oranges and lemons on the tree or the 
feign-death coils of the old vine-serpent, I swell in 
unity with them, I ripen with the ripe sugar-cane, the 
banana in fiower, I giaft myself on certain trees, — the 
stone or umbrella-pine, the sun-loving Norfolk Island 
pine, the leaning bamboo, the squat carob, the rusty 
cork-oak and the plane. For the hundredth time I 
remark with wonder how the leaves and sprays of the 
plane-tree forge the pendulous signature of the vine! 
‘Evincet ulmos platanus coelebs.’ The bachelor plane 
shaE drive out the elms. ... 

My desire is for wisdom, not for the exercise of 
the will. ‘The will is the strong blind man who 
carries oh his shoulders the lame man who can see.’ — 
SCHOPENHAtJER. 

For me success in life means survival. I believe that a 
ripe old age is nature’s reward to those who have grasped 
her secret. I do not wish to die young or mad. The true 
of existence can best be studied in a long life 
like Go^hc’s, — a life of reason interrupted at intervals 
bj emotional outbursts, displacements, passions, follies. 
In ymrth the Hfe of reason ks not in itself sufiicient; 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


afterwards the life of emotion, except for short periods, 
becomes unbearable. 

Sometimes at night I get a feeling of claustro- 
phobia; of being smothered by my own personality, of 
choking through being in the world. During these 
moments the universe seems a prison wherein I lie 
fettered by the chains of my senses and blinded through 
being myself. 

It is like being piimed underneath the hull of a cap- 
sized boat, yet being afraid to dive deeper and get clear. 
In those moments it seems that there must be a way 
out, and that through sloughing off the personality 
alone can it be taken. 

We love but once, for once only are we perfectly equipped 
for loving: we may appear to ourselves to be as much 
in love at other times — so will a day in early September, 
though it be six hours shorter, seem as hot as one in 
June. And on how that first true love-affair will shape 
depends the pattern of our lives. 

Two fears alternate in marriage, of loneliness and of 
bondage. The dread of loneliness being keener than the 
fear of bondage, we get married. For one person 
who fears being thus tied there are four who dread 
being set free. Yet the love of liberty is a noble passion 
and one to which most married people secretly aspire, — 
in moments when they are not neurotically dependent — 
but by then it is too late ; the ox does not become a bull, 
nor the hen a falcon. 

The fear of loneliness can be overcome, for it springs 
from weakness; human bemgs are intended to be free, 
and to be free is to be lonely, but the fear of bondage is 
the apprehension of a real danger, and so I find it all the 
more pathetic to watch young men and beautiful girls 

II 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

taking refuge in marriage from an imaginary danger, 
a sad loss to their friends and a sore trial to each other. 
First love is the one most worth having, yet the best 
marriage is often the second, for we should marry only 
when the desire for freedom be spent; not till then does 
a man know whether he is the kind who can settle down. 
The most tragic breakings-up are of those couples 
who have married yoimg and who have enjoyed seven 
years of happiness, after which the banked fires of 
passion and independence explode — and without know- 
ing why, for they still love each other, they set about 
accomplishing their common destruction. 

When a love-affair is broken off, the heaviest blow is 
to the vanity of the one who is left. It is therefore 
reasonable to assume that, when a love-affair is begin- 
ning, the greatest source of satisfaction is also to the 
vanity. The first signs of a mutual attraction will induce 
even the inconsolable to live in the present. 

Cracking tawny nuts, looking out at the tawny planes 
with their dappled festoons of yellow and green, reading 
the Tao Te Ching by a log fire: such is the wisdom of 
October: autumn bliss ; the equinoctial study of religions. 

Jesus was a petulant man : his malediction on the barren 
fig tree was sheer spite, his attitude towards the Pharisees 
one of paranoiac wrath. He speaks of them as 
Hider of the men who made the League of Nations. 
Those parables which all end ^ There shall be wailing 
and gnashing of teeth’, — what a tone for a Redeemer! 
I find such incidents as the violence used on the man 
without a wedding garment or the praise of usury in the 
liable of the talents to be understandable only as 
outbursts of arrogance and bad temper. Though an 
infixed genius as a mystic and an ethical reformer, 
Jesus ^ also completely a Jew; he does not wish to 
12 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


break away from the Jewish framework of the Old 
Testament, the Law and the Prophets, but to enrich 
their ethical content; consequently he imitates the 
intolerance of the Pharisees whom he condemns (‘O 
ye generation of vipers’) and maintains the avenging 
role of God the Father which he claims to have super- 
seded. 

Impression of Jesus Christ after re-reading the Gospels: 
He thought he was the son of God, he disliked his 
parents, was a prig, a high-spirited and serious young 
man (where was he, what was he doing, between the 
ages of twelve and twenty-nine?) He felt an especial 
hatred for the Pharisees, the family, his hometown and 
adultery, and he may have been illegitimate (Ben 
Pandere)^; he had a macabre sense of humour; was 
overwhelmingly grateful to those who believed in him 
(‘Thou art Peter’), and extremely close to his elder 
cousin John, but though moulding himself on him, he 
was less ascetic. He was fond of wine and very partial 
to grapes and figs. More civilized than his cousin, he 
was yet deeply affected by his end, which warned him of 
what would be his own if he. persisted. The death of 
John and the revelation of Messiahship at Caesarea 

^ The Jewish tradition was that he was the son of a Roman 
Centurion, Pantheras, the Panther. Hence his aloofiiess to his 
‘father^ and ‘brethren’, his ambivalent attitude to his mother 
and to adultery. (His definition of adultery is very sharp, and he 
sets ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ as the only command- 
ment beside ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’. The 
question about the woman taken in adultery may have been 
put to him as a trap by those who believed this story.) I have 
heard a fnend say that the German scholar Von Domaszewski 
claimed to have found on our Roman Wall the gravestone of 
Pantheras which showed that his legion had been in Judaea 
about 4 B.c. The Christians maintained that ‘Pantherou’, son 
of the Panther, was a corruption of * Parthenou % of the Virgin. 
There is a strange poem by Hardy on this theme. 


3^3 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Philippi completely changed him: impatient, ironical 
and short-tempered, he was a true faith-healer, inspired 
by his sublime belief in himself and tragically betrayed 
by it. I can’t believe in his divinity, yet it is impossible 
not to admire his greatness, his majesty, his fatalistic 
intuition and that mixture of practical wisdom with 
sublime vision which alone can save our world. His 
faith carried him through to the end, then wavered. 
Was there a secret understanding with John the Baptist? 
John the Baptist, I feel, holds many clues. About the 
miracles I siispend judgement. But not about the Sermon 
on the Mount. Those loving dazzling teasing-tender 
promises are like a lifting of the human horror, the 
bursting of a great dam. How different he is from 
Buddha i 

Buddha though a philosopher-king is too oriental. 
His courage in living to a great age, among ageing 
disciples, confers a pedagogic monotony on his teaching. 
B^des, we can never absorb his tides; they are ill- 
accommodated to the Western ear. The Chinese wisdom 
alone has a natural affinity for the West, the Chinese 
are always practical. And Tao — a religion without 
words, without a saviour, without a doubt, a God, or a 
future life, whose truth is in a hoof-mark filled with 
water — ^what more dare we ask?^ 

‘ Repose, tranquillity, stillness, inaction — ^these were the 
levels of the universe, the ultimate perfection of Tao.’ — 
CHUANO TZU- 

^ Taobm (pronounced Dowism) is a Moni&t reconciliation of 
the human being to the inhuman, inactive harmony of the 
imiverse. In return for such an adaptation the Taoist resolves his 
isonffict, and gains a sensation of power and tranquillity which 
he h kitii to disturb. BGs quietism is akin to that of Zeno, 
Epicurus, Molinas and. St. John of the Cross, but danger- 
o^ly csposed to the oorriq^tipn cff 

H 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


Forty, — ^sombre anniversary to the hedonist, — in seekers 
after truth like Buddha, Mahomet, Mencius, St. Ignatius, 
the turning-point of their lives. 

The secret of happiness (and therefore of success) is 
to be in harmony with existence, to be always calm, 
always lucid, always willing ‘ to be joined to the universe 
without being more conscious of it than an idiot’, to let 
each wave of life wash us a little farther up the shore. 

But the secret of art ? There have been so many Infernos 
and so few Paradises in European art that the Infernos 
would seem our true climate. Yet those who have sur- 
vived Satanism, war or passion have cared only for 
Paradise. In that sense Religion is the sequel to art 
and the sequel to love, as Paradise Regained follows 
half-heartedly after Paradise Lost. 

Two Modern Taoists 

* I have never seen a man who had such creative quiet- 
It radiated from him as from the sun. His face was that 
of a man who knows about day and night, sky and sea 
and air. He did not speak about these things. He had no 
tongue to tell of them . . 

‘I have often seen Klee’s window from the street, 
with his pale oval face, like a large egg, and his open eyes 
pressed to the window pane.’ — j. adder. 

‘The only thing in all my experience I cling to is my 
coolness and leisurely exhilarated contemplation. If I 
could influence you to achieve that je faurais rendu un 
pen de sermce, J^y tiens TELLEMENT — si tu savais 
comme fy tiens. Let this advice be my perpetual and 
most solemn legacy to you.’ — ^w. sickert (to Nina 
Hamnett). 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 


‘The mind of the sage in repose becomes the mirror 
of the universe, the speculum of all creation/ — 

CHUANG TZU. 

Whether or not he produce anything, this contempla- 
tion is the hall-mark of the artist. It is his gelatine, his 
queen-bee jelly, the compost round his roots: the 
violent are drawn to such a man by the violence of his 
serenity. 

‘Points upon which the Yellow Emperor doubted, how 
can Confucius know ?’ ^ 

Palinurus says: ‘It is better to be the lichen on a rock 
than the President’s carnation. Only by avoiding the 
beginning of things can we escape their ending.’ Thus 
every friendship closes in the quarrel which is a conflict 
of wills, and every love-affair must reach a point where 
it will attain marriage, and be changed, or decline it, 
and wither. 

The friendships which last are those wherein each 
friend respects the others’ dignity to the point of not 
wanting anything from him. Therefore a man with 
a will to power can have no friends. He is like a boy with 
a chopper. He tries it on flowers, then on sticks, then 
on furniture, and at last he breaks it on a stone. 

There cannot be a personal God without a pessimistic 
rel^on. A personal God is a disappointing God; and 
Job, Omar Khayyam, Euripides, Palladas, Voltaire and 

proverb which the Taoists coined to discredit their 
bustling rival. The Yellow Emperor or Ancestor, revered by 
the Taoists, flourished circa 2700-2600 B.C. ‘The close of his 
long reign was made glorious by the appearance of the Phoenix 
mysterious animal known as the Chi Lin, in token of 
his wise and humane administration.’ — Giles: Chinese Biogra- 
Dicthmary. 
ib 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


Professor Housman will denounce him. With Buddhism, 
Taoism, Quietism, and the God of Spinoza there can be 
no disappointment, because there is no Appointment. 

Yet no one can achieve Serenity tintil the glare of 
passion is past the meridian. There is no certain way 
of preserving chastity against the will of the body. 
Lao-Tsu succeeded. But then he was eighty and a 
Librarian, So he inveighed against books and book- 
learning, and left but one, shorter than the shortest 
gospel — a ELaleidoscope of the Void. 

Action is the true end of Western religion, contempla- 
tion of Eastern; therefore the West is in need of 
Buddhism (or Taoism or Yoga) and the East of Com- 
munism (or muscular Christianity) — and this is just 
what both are getting. Undergoing the attraction of 
opposites, w^e translate the Tao Te Ching and the 
Bhagavad-Gita, they learn the Communist Manifesto, 

The moment a writer puts his pen to paper he is of his 
time; the moment he becomes of his time he ceases to 
appeal to other periods and so will be forgotten. He 
who would write a book that would last for ever must 
learn to use invisible ink. Yet if an author is of his age, 
parallel situations will recur which he may return to 
haunt. He will obsess the minds of living writers, 
prevent them from sleeping, crowd them out like the 
Horla and snatch the bread from their mouths. 

Our minds do not come of age until we discover that 
the great writers of the past whom we patx^I^e, dead 
though they be, are none the less far more intelligent than 
ourselves — ^Proust, James, Voltaire, Donne, Lucretius 
— how we would have bored them! 

Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun 
bring more happiness than daffodils. Spring is a call 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

to action, kence to disillusion, therefore is April called 
‘the cruellest month*. Autumn is the mind’s true Spring; 
what is there we have, ‘quidquid promiserat annus’ 
and it is more than we expected. 

Women 

There is no fury like an ex-wife searching for a new lover. 
When we see a woman chewing the cud meekly beside 
her second husband, it is hard to imagine how brutally, 
implacably and pettily she got rid of the other. There 
are two great moments in a woman’s life: when first 
she finds herself to be deeply in love with her man and 
when she leaves him. Leaving him enables her to be 
both sadist and masochist, to be stony when he implores 
her to stay and to weep because she has decided to go. 
Women differ from men in that to break with the past 
and mangle their mate in the process fulfils a dark 
need. Thus a wife’s woman-friends will derive an almost 
equal satisfaction from her impending departure. 
Together they prepare the brief against the husband 
which will strip him of his fiiends. They love to know 
the date, to fan the fiames, and when the Monster is 
alone to rush round and inspect him. They will hear 
the clump of suit-cases a himdred streets away. 

Beware of a woman with too many girl-Mends, for 
they will always try to destroy the conjugal WE. One 
gill-friend is worse, unless afterwards we marry her. 
In America every woman has her set of girl-friends; 
some are cousins, the rest are gained at school. These 
form a permanent committee who sit on each other’s 
affairs, who <x)me out* together, marry and divorce 
ti^ether, and who end as those groups of bustling, 
heartless well-informed club-women who govern society. 
Against them the Ckmple or Ehepaar is helpless and 
Man in cjm but a biolo^cal linterlude. 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


In the sex-war thoughtlessness is the weapon of the 
male, vindictiveness of the female. Both are reciprocally 
generated, but a woman’s desire for revenge outlasts all 
other emotion. 

And their revenge is as the tiger’s spring, 

Deadly, and quick, and crushing; yet as real 
Torture is theirs, what they inflict they feel. 

When every unkind word about women has been 
said, we have still to admit, with Byron, that they are 
nicer than men. They are more devoted, more unselfish 
and more emotionally sincere. When the long fuse of 
cruelty, deceit and revenge is set alight, it is male 
thoughtlessness which has fired it. 

A woman who will not feign submission can never 
make a man happy and so never be happy herself. 
There has never been a happy suffragette. In a perfect 
union the man and woman are like a strung bow. Who 
is to say whether the string bend the bow, or the bow 
tighten the string? Yet male bow and female string are 
in harmony with each other and an arrow can be fitted. 
Unstrung, the bow hangs aimless; the cord flaps idly. 

A man who has nothing to do with women is incomplete. 
A puritan is incomplete because he excludes that half of 
himself of which he is afraid and so the deeper he 
imprisons himself in his fastidiousness, the more diffi- 
culty he has in finding a woman who is brave enough 
to simulate the vulgarity by which he can be released. 

*Sabba dufckha, sabba anatta, sabba anikka.’ ^ 

^ * Sorrow is everywhere 
In man is no abiding entity 

In things no abiding reality -’ — ^buddha (a dirge that sdll 
resounds mournfully in ten thousand monasteries). 


19 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

A stone lies in a river; a piece of wood is jammed against 
it; dead leaves, drifting logs, and branches caked with 
mud collect; weeds settle there, and soon birds have 
made a nest and are feeding their young among the 
blossoming water plants. Then the river rises and the 
earth is washed away. The birds depart, the flowers 
wither, the branches are dislodged and drift downward; 
no trace is left of the floating island but a stone submerged 
by the water; — such is our personality. 

If (as Christians, Buddhists, Mystics, Yogis, Platonists, 
believe) our life is vanity, the world unreal, personality 
non-existent, the senses deceivers, their perceptions and 
even reason and imagination false; then how tragic that 
foam the Flesh are such deductions always made! If 
our mission in life is to evolve spiritually, then why are 
we provided with bodies so refractory that in many 
thousands of years we have not been able to improve 
them? Not one lust of the flesh, not one single illusion, 
not even our male nipples have been bred out of us; 
and still our new-born babies roll about in paroxysms 
of sensual cupidity and egomaniac wrath. 

Three faults, which are found together and which infect 
every activity: laziness, vanity, cowardice. If one is too 
lazy to thi^ too vain to do a thing badly, too cowardly 
to admit it, one will never attain wisdom. Yet it is 
only the th inking which begins when habit-thinking 
leaves off, which is ignited by the logic of the train of 
thought, that is worth pursuing. A comfortable person 
can seldom follow up an original idea any further than a 
London pigeon can fly. 

Complacent mental laziness is our national disease. 

Today our literatum is suffering from the dec^ of 

poetry and the dedine of fiction^ yet never have there 
20 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


been so many novelists and poets; this is because neither 
will overcome the difficulties of their medium. Irrespon- 
sible poets who simulate inspiration trample down the 
flower of a language as brut^y as politician and jour- 
nalist blunt and enfeeble with their slovenliness the 
common run of words. Many war poets don’t try; they 
are like boys playing about on a billiard table who wonder 
what the cues and pockets are for. Nor is it easier for 
novelists, w’ho can no longer develop character, situation 
or plot. 

Flaubert, Henry James, Proust, Joyce and Virginia 
Woolf have finished off the novel. Now all will have to 
be re-invented as from the beginning. 

Let us reflect whether there be any living writer whose 
silence we would consider a literary disaster: one who, 
with three centuries more of art and history to draw 
from, can sustain a comparison with, for example, Pascal. 

Pascal’s Pensies were written about 1660. Many of them 
are modem not merely in thought, but in expression 
and force; they would be of overwhelming importance 
if they were now published for the first time. Such a 
genius must invalidate the usual conception of human 
progress. Particularly modem are his rapidity, detach- 
ment and intellectual impatience. 

Resemblance. Pascal: Leopardi: Baudelaire. 

Wisdom of Pascal 1623-1662 

‘Tout le malheur des hommes vient d’une seule chose, 
qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une 
chambre.’ 

‘Notre nature est dans le mouvement; le repos entier 
est la mort.’ 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Ennui: ‘Rien n’est si insupportable k rhomme que 
d’etre dans un plein repos, sans passions, sans affaire, 
sans divertissement, sans application. 11 sent alors son 
neant, son iiisufiBsance, sa dependance, son impuissance, 
son vide. Incontinent il sortira du fond de son kme 
Tenniii, la noirceur, la tristesse, le chagrin, le d6pit, le 
desespoir.’ 

Mis^e: *La seule chose qui nous console de nos naiseres 
est le divertissement, et cependant c’est la plus grande de 
nos miseres, car c’est cela qui nous empeche principale- 
ment de songer a nous, et qui nous fait perdre 
insensiblement.’ 

La Glmre: ‘Lr’admiration gkte tout dhs I’enfance: Oh! 
que ceia est bien dit I Oh! qu’il a bien fait! Qu’il est sage, 
etc. , . 

*Les enfants de Port-Royal, auxquels on ne donne point 
cet aiguillon d’envie et de gloire, tombent dans la 
nonchalance.’ 

Pascal and Leopardi (both died aged thirty-nine) depress 
and frighten one because they were ill, almost deformed, 
and therefore because their deformity renders suspect 
so much of their pessimism. They are the Grand 
Inquisitors who break down our alibis of health and 
happiness. Are they pessimistic because they are ill? 
Or does thdbr illness act as a short cut to reality — ^which 
is intrinsically tragic?^ Or did their deformities en- 
cour^ the herd to treat them thoughtlessly, and so 
create in diem a catastrophic impression of human nature ? 

^ * For we know to the contrary, 103 or 104 degrees 

Falnenheit might be a much more ^vourable temperature for 
truths to germinate and ^rout in, than the more OTdinary 
bkiod-beat of 97 or 98 degrees .* — ^william james, 

32 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

chaque jour 6gorges a la vue des autres, ceux qui restent 
voient leur propre condition dans celle de leurs sem- 
blables, et, se regardant les uns et les autres avec douleur 
et sans esp^rance, attendant a leur tour. C’est Timage 
de la condition des hommes/ 

December latk: Revisit pale Chelsea’s nook-shotten 
Cythera. 

Christmas Eve: D6goute de tout. Midwinter cafard. 

La Nochebuena se viene 
la Nochebuena se va 
y nosotros nos iremos 
y no volveremos mds.^ 

No opinions, no ideas, no true knowledge of anything, 
no ideals, no inspiration; a fat, slothful, querulous, 
greedy, impotent carcass; a stump, a decaying belly 
washed up on the shore, ‘ Manes Palinuri esse placandos !’ 
Always tired, always bored, always hurt, always hating. 

Sacred names: Rue de Chanaleilles. Summer night, 
limes in flower; old houses, with large gardens enclosed 
by high walls; silent heart of the leafy Faubourg: 
sensation of what is lost: lost love, lost youth, lost 
Paris, — remorse and folly. Aiel 

A love affair is a grafting operation. ‘What has once 
been joined, never forgets.’ There is a moment when the 
graft takes ; up to then is possible without difficulty the 
separation which afterwards comes only through break- 
ing off a great hunk of oneself, the ingrown fibre of 
hours, days, years. 

^ *ChristeQ2s Eve com^, Christmas Eve goes and we too shall 
pess ^lid wfver nooie return*. Old Spanish carol. 

H 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


In many of Pascal’s reflections one detects not only the 
scientific accuracy, but the morbidity and peevishness, 
the injustice of Proust. 

How was La Rochefoucauld’s health ? 

Pascal’s ‘moi’ is Freud’s ‘Id’. Thus Pascal writes, ‘Le 
moi est haissable . . . le moi a deux qualites: il est injuste 
en soi, en ce qu’il se fait centre de tout; il est incommode 
aux autres, en ce qu’il les veut asservir: car chaque moi 
est I’ennemi et voudrait etre le tyran de tous les autres’. 

This is Freud. But though babies are bom ^zZ/ ‘Id’, we 
do not for that condemn the human race. 

We may consider that we are bom as ‘ Id’ and that the 
object of life is to sublimate the Td’, — ^the ‘Id’ is all 
greed, anger, fear, vanity and lust. Our task is to purge 
it, to shed it gradually as an insect sheds its larval form. 

Life is a maze in which we take the wrong turning before 
we have learnt to walk. 

Pascal says: ‘Death should infallibly put them [the 
pleasure-lovers] very soon in the horrible necessity of 
being eternally unhappy . . .’ We keep forgetting his 
belief in Hell, because we can accept so much else that he 
believes. Yet believing in Hell must distort every judge- 
ment on this life. However much a Christian may claim 
that the central doctrine of the Church is the Incarna- 
tion and nothing else, he is led on inevitably to exclusive 
salvation, to Heaven and Hell, to censorship and the 
persecution of heresy, till he finds himself among the 
brothel-owning Jesuits and cannon-blessing bishops of 
the Spanish war. 

Pascal (or Hemingway, Sartre, or Malraux). 

‘Qu’on s’imagine un nombre d’homm^ dans les 
chaines, et tous condamn^ k la morti dont les uns ^tant 

as 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

chaque jour egorges a la vue des autres, ceux qui restent 
voient leur propre condition dans celle de leurs sem- 
blables, et, se regardant les nns et les autres avec douleur 
et sans esperance, attendent a leur tour. C’est Timage 
de la condition des hommes.’ 

December 12th: Revisit pale Chelsea’s nook-shotten 
Cythera. 

Clmstmas Eve: Degoute de tout. Midwinter cafard. 

La Nochebuena se viene 
la Nochebuena se va 
y nosotros nos iremos 
y no volveremos mds.^ 

No opinions, no ideas, no true knowledge of anything, 
no ideals, no inspiration; a fat, slothM, querulous, 
greedy, impotent carcass; a stump, a decaying belly 
washed up on the shore. ‘ Manes Palinuri esse placandos !’ 
Always tired, always bored, always hurt, always hating. 

Sacred names: Rue de Chanaleilles. Summer night, 
limes in flower; old houses, with large gardens enclosed 
by high walls; silent heart of the leafy Faubourg: 
sensation of what is lost: lost love, lost youth, lost 
Paris, — remorse and folly. Aiel 

A love aSair is a grafting operation. "What has once 
been joined, never forgets.’ There is a moment when the 
graft takes; up to then is possible without difidculty the 
separation which afterwards comes only through break- 
ing off a great hunk of oneself, the ingrown fibre of 
hours, days, years, 

^ •Christmas Eve comes, Christmas Eve goes and we too shall 
pass and never more return*. Old Spanish carol 
a4 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


New-Year resolution: lose a stone, then all the rest will 
follow. Obesity is a mental state, a disease brought on 
by boredom and disappointment; greedy like the love 
of comfort, is a kind of fear. The one way to get thin is 
to re-establish a purpose in life. 

Thus a good writer must be in training: if he is a 
stone too heavy then that fourteen pounds represents 
for him so much extra indulgence, so much clogging 
laziness; in fact a coarsening of sensibility. There are 
but two ways to be a good writer: like Homer, Shake- 
speare or Goethe, to accept life completely, or like 
Pascal, Proust, Leopardi, Baudelaire, to refuse ever to 
lose sight of its horror. 

When we reflect on life we perceive that only through 
solitary communion with nature can we gain an idea 
of its richness and meaning. We know that in such 
contemplation lies our true personality, and yet we live 
in an age when we are told exactly the opposite and 
asked to believe that the social and co-operative activity 
of humanity is the one way through which life can be 
developed. Am I an exception, a herd-outcast? There are 
also solitary bees, and it is not claimed that they are 
biologically inferior. A planet of contemplators, each 
sunning hims elf before his doorstep like the mason* 
wasp; no one would help another, and no one would 
need help 1 

Marriage: ‘An experience everyone should go through 
and then live his own life’ ar ‘living one’s own life — 
an experience everyone should go through and then 
marry’? 

The tragedy of modem marriage is that married 
couples no longer enjoy the support of society, although 
marriage, difficult enough at any time, requires social 
sanction. Thus, in the past, married women censured 

«5 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

the immarried; the constant punished the inconstant; 
society outlawed the divorced and the dwellers-in-sin. 
Now it does the opposite. The State harries the hximan 
couple and takes both man and wife for its wars, society 
quests impatiently for the first suspicion of mistress or 
lover, and neurotic three-in-a-bedders, lonely and 
envious, make the young menage their prey. 

‘In wise love each divines the high secret self of the 
other, and, refusing to believe in the mere daily self, 
creates a mirror where the lover or the beloved sees an 
image to copy in daily life.* — ^yeats. 

Human life is understandable only as a state of transition, 
as part of an evolutionary process; we can take it to be 
a transition between the animal world and some other 
form which we assume to be spiritual. Anxiety and 
remorse are the results of failing to advance spiritually. 
For this reason they follow close on pleasure, which 
is not necessarily harmful, but which, since it does not 
bring advancement with it, outrages that part of us 
which is concerned with growth. Such ways of passing 
time as chess, bridge, drink and motoring accumulate 
guilt But what constitutes the spiritual ideal? Is it the 
Nietzschean Superman or his opposite, the Buddha? 
The spiritual trend of human beings would seem to be 
towards pacifism, vegetarianism, contemplative mysti- 
cism, the elimination of violent emotion and even of 
self-reproducdon. But is it impossible to improve 
a n im a l -man so that instead of being made to renounce 
his an i m a l nature, he refines it? Can anxiety and remorse 
be avoided in that way? Imagine a cow or a pig which 
rejected the body for a ‘noble eight-fold way of self- 
edightenment*. One would feel that the beast had made 
a lake calculation. If our elaborate and dominating 
bodfe are given us to be demed at every turn, if our 
nature is always wrong and wicked, how inefiectual 



ECCE GUBERBATOR 


we are — ^like fishes not meant to swim. Have the solitary, 
the chaste, the ascetic who have been with us now for 
six thousand years, ever been proved to be right? Has 
humanity shown any sign of evolving in their direction? 
As well as Diogenes and the Stylite, there is also Aristip- 
pus or Epicurus as alternative to the Beast,^ 

And now we have a new conception: the Group 
Man. Man’s spiritual evolution, about which I prate, 
taking the form of a leap from the poorly org aniz ed 
wolf-pack and sheep-flock into an insect society, a 
community in which the individual is not merely a 
gregarious unit, but a cell in the body itself. Community 
and individual are, in fact, indistinguishable. How will 
you enjoy that, Palinurus ? 


^ The Middle Way. 

‘ Aristippus parlant k des jeunes gens qui rougissaient de le 
voir entrer chez une courtisane: “Le vice est de n*en pas sortir, 
non pas d’y entrer.” * — Montaigne {Essms^ III, v). 


^7 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 


A charm against the Group Man 

The Magic Circle 



Peace-aims : (i) a yellow manor farm inside this magic 
drde; 

(2) a helicopter to take me to 

(3) an office in London or Paris and 

(4) to my cabin at Almuhecar or 

Ramatuelle. 


28 








ECCE GUBERNATOR 

Daydream: A golden classical house, three stories high, 
widi ceil de hceuf attic windows looking out over water. 
A magnolia Delavayi gro\\dQg up the wall, a terrace for 
winter, a great tree for summer and a lawn for games; 
a wooded hill behind and a river below, then a sheltered 
garden, indulgent to fig and nectarine, and, at an angle 
of the wall, a belvedere, book-lined like that of Mont- 
aigne, wizard of the magic circle, with this motto from 
him: ‘La liberte et Toisivete qui sont mes maitresses 
qualites*. 

As I waddle along in thick black overcoat and dark 
suit with a leather brief-case under my arm, I smile to 
think how this costume officially disguises the wild and 
storm-tossed figure of Palinurus; who knows that a 
poet is masquerading here as a whey-faced bureaucrat? 
And who should ever know? 

The secret of happiness lies in the avoidance of Angst 
(anxiety, spleen, noia, fear, remorse, cafard). It is a 
mistake to consider happiness as a positive state. By 
removing Angst, the condition of all unhappiness, we 
are then prepared to receive such blessings as may come 
our way. We know very little about Angst, which may 
even proceed from the birth trauma, or be a primitive 
version of the sense of original sin, but we can try to 
find out what makes it worseA 

Angst can take the form of remorse about the past, 
guilt about the present, anxiety about the future. Often 

^ Freudians consider anxiety to arise from the repression of 
anger or love. Kretschmer thinks there is an obscure somatic 
relation between anxiety and sex. Theologians associate it with 
the Fall, Behaviorists with undigested food in the stomach, 
Klierkegaard with the vertigo that precedes sin. Buddha and 
many philosophers regarded it as concurrent with Desire, Thus 
Bacon quotes Epicurus: ‘Use not that you may not wish, wish 
not that you may not fear’^ 


29 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

it is due to our acceptance through an imperfect know- 
ledge of ourselves of conventional habits of living. Thus 
to keep someone waiting or to be kept waiting is a cause 
of Angst which is out of all proportion to the minor 
fault of unpunctuality. Therefore we may assume that 
we keep people waiting symbolically because we do 
not wish to see them and that our anxiety is due not to 
being late, but lest our hostility be deteced. The chroni- 
cally unpunctual should cancel all engagements for 
a definite period. Similarly, anxiety at being kept 
waiting is a form of jealousy, a fear that we are not liked. 

Fatigue is one cause of Angst which may disappear 
if the tired person is able to lie down; bad air is another, 
or seeing a tube train move out as one reaches the plat- 
form. 

To sit late in a restaurant (especially when one has to 
pay the bill) or over a long m^ after a cocktail party 
is particularly conducive to Angst, which does not 
affect us after snacks taken in an armchair with a book. 
The business lunch is another meal from which we 
would prefer to be driven away in a coffin. Certainly 
a frequent cause of Angst is an awareness of the waste 
of our time and ability, such as may be witnessed among 
people kept waiting by a hairdresser. 

Further considerations on cowardice, sloth and vanity; 
vices which do small harm to other people but which 
prevent one fiom doing any good and which poison 
and enfeeble all the virtues. Sloth rots the intelligence, 
cowardice destroys all power at the source, while vanity 
inhibits us from facing any fact which might teach us 
something ; it dulls all other sensation. 

Home Truth from La Bruyere: *L*e^erience ^nfirme 
qoe la moflesse ou Tindulgent^ pour soi et la duretd 
poor ks autres n^est qu’un seul et mkn& vice.’ 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


I see the world as a kind of Black Hole of Calcutta, 
where we are all milling about in darkness and slime; 
now and then the mere being in the world is enough to 
cause violent claustrophobia (or is it a physical shortness 
of breath which creates the sensation of claustrophobia 
and therefore the image of the Black Hole ?). And then 
I know that it is only by some desperate escape, like 
Pascal's, that I can breathe; but cowardice and sloth 
prevent me from escaping. 

Who have escaped ? 

Those who know don't speak; 

Those who speak don’t know. 

On the American desert are horses which eat loco- 
weed and some are driven mad by it; their vision is 
affected, they take enormous leaps to cross a tuft of 
grass or tumble blindly into rivers. The horses which 
have become thus addicted are shunned by the rest 
and will never rejoin the herd. So is it with human beings: 
those who are conscious of another world, the world 
of the spirit, acquire an outlook which distorts the values 
of ordinary life; they are consumed by the weed of non- 
attachment, Curiosity is their one excess and therefore 
they are recognized not by what they do but by what 
they refrain from doing, like those Araphants or disciples 
of Buddha who were pledged to the ‘Nine Incapa- 
bilities’. Thus they do not take life, they do not compete, 
they do not boast, they do not join groups of more than 
six, they do not condemn others; they are ‘abandoners 
of revels, mute, contemplative’ who are depressed by 
gossip, gaiety and equals, who wait to be telephoned to, 
who neither speak in public nor keep up with their 
friends nor take revenge oir their enemies. Self-know- 
ledge has taught them to abandon hate and blame and 
envy in their lives until they look sadder than they are. 

31 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

They seldom make positive assertions because they see, 
outlined against any statement, (as a painter sees a 
complementary colour), the image of its opposite. 
Most psychological questionnaires are designed to 
search out these moonlings and ensure their non- 
employment, They divine each other by a warm indif- 
ference for they know that they are not intended to 
foregather, but, like stumps of phosphorus in the 
world’s wood, each to give forth his misleading radiance. 

The two errors: We can either have a spiritual or a 
materialist view of life. If we believe in the spirit then 
we make an assumption which permits a whole chain 
down to a belief in fairies, witches, astrology, black 
magic, ghosts, and treasure-divining; the point at which 
we stop believing is dictated by our temperament or 
by our mood at a given moment. Thus the early Chris- 
tians believed in the miracles of false prophets, and 
regarded the p^an gods as devils who had entrenched 
themselves in secure positions. They were more pagan 
than I am. On the other hand a completely materi^st 
view leads to its own excesses, such as a belief in Be- 
haviorism, in the economic basis of art, in the social 
foundation of ethics and the biological nature of psycho- 
logy, in fact to the justification of expediency and 
therefore ultimately to the Ends- Means fallacy of which 
our civilization is perishing, 

If we believe in a supernatural or superhuman intelli- 
gence creating the universe, then we end by stocking 
our library with the prophecies of Nostradamus and the 
calculations on the Great Pyramid. If instead we choose 
to travel viS Montaigne and Voltaire, then we choke 
amoi^ the brimstone aridities of the Left Book Club. 

It is a significant comment on the victory of science 
over magic that were someone to say "if I put this pill 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


in your beer it will explode^ we might believe them; 
but were they to cry * if I pronounce this spell over your 
beer it will go flat/ we should remain incrediilous and 
Paracelsus, the Alchemists, Aleister Crowley and all 
the Magi have lived in vain. Yet vrhen I read science 
I turn magical; when I study magic, scientific. 

We cannot say that truth lies in the centre between 
the spiritual and material conception, since life must 
be one thing or the other. But can it be both ? Supposing 
life were created by an act of God willing the accidental 
combination of chemicals to form a cell; created in fact 
by deliberate accident. Then, in the confidence of 
youth when the body seems self-sufficing, it would 
be natural to emphasize the materialist nature of 
phenomena, and in old age, when the body begins to 
betray us, to abandon our sensual outlook for a more 
spiritual cosmorama, — and both times we should be 
right. 

Sunshine streams through the room, the dove grinds 
her love-song on the roof, out in the square the grass 
turns green, the earth has been cleared round the 
daffodils as a stage is cleared for the dancers, and under 
a rinsed blue sky the streets remember Canaletto; 
London spring is on its way. 

Spring, season of massacre and offensives, of warm 
days and flowing blood, of flowers and bombs. Out with 
the hyacinths, on with the slaughter! Glorious weather 
for tanks and land-mines! 

The creative moment of a writer comes with the autumn. 
The winter is the time for reading, revision, preparation 
of the soil; the spring for thawing back to life; the 
summer is for the open air, for satiating the body with 
health and action, but from October to Christmas for 
the release of mental energy, the hard crown of the year. 
^ 33 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

The duality of man is the heresy of Paul and Plato, 
heresy because the concept of soul and body is bound 
to imply a struggle between them which leads on the one 
hand to ascetism and puritanism, on the other to excess 
of materialism and sensuality. The greatness of Christ 
and Buddha sprang from the abandonment of asceticism 
for the Middle Path. 

The spiritual life of man is the flowering of his bodily 
existence: there is a physical life which remains the 
perfect way of living for natural man, a life in close 
contact with nature, with the sun and the passage of 
the seasons, and one rich in opportunities for equinoctial 
migrations and home-comings. This life has now become 
artificial, out of reach of all but the rich or the obstin- 
ately free, yet until we can return to it we are unable to 
appreciate the potentialities of living. (Whales, branded 
in the Arctic, are found cruising in Antarctic waters; 
men, ringed in ch il d ho od, are observed, seventy years 
later, under the same stone.) We may compare a human 
being to a fruit-tree whose purpose is its fruit, fruit 
out of all proportion to the tree's value; yet, unless 
the tree receives its years of leisure, its requirements 
of sun and rain, the fruit will not ripen. So it is 
with the spiritual virtues of man, for we have divided 
man into two kinds; those whose soil is so poor or the 
dimate of whose lives so unsuitable that they can never 
beat, and those who are forced and cramped under glass, 
wiK>se lives are so constricted by responsibility that they 
become all fruit; hasty, artificial and without flavour. 


We progress through an intensifymg of the power 
generated by the physical satisfaction of natural man, 
whose two worst enemies are apathy and delirium; 
^ af^thy which spreads outward from the animal 
Sfe, the ddinum which results from the violent methods 
to escape. 

34 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


Happiness lies in the fulfilment of the spirit through the 
body. Thus humanity has already evolved from an 
animal life to one more chdlized. There can be no com- 
plete return to nature, to nudism or desert-islandry: 
city life is the subtlest ingredient in the human climate. 
But we have gone wrong over the size of our cities and 
over the kind of life we lead in them; in the past the 
clods were the peasants, now the brute mass of ignorance 
is urban. The village idiot walks in Leicester Square. 
To live according to nature we should pass a consider- 
able time in cities for they are the glory of human nature, 
but they should never contain more than two hundred 
thousand inhabitants; it is our artificial enslavement 
to the large city, too sprawling to leave, too enormous 
for human dignity, which is responsible for half our 
sickness and misery. Slums may well be breeding- 
grounds of crime, but middle-class suburbs are incuba- 
tors of apathy and delirium. No city should be too 
large for a man to walk out of in a morning,^ 

Surrealism is a typical city-delirium movement, a 
violent explosion of urban claustrophobia; one cannot 
imagine Surrealists except in vast cities, ‘paysans de 
Paris* or New York. The nihilism of Celine and Miller 
is another by-product, and so are those mass-movers, 
Marx with his carbuncles. Hitler with his Beer-Hall. 
The English masses are lovable: they are kind, decent, 
tolerant, practical and not stupid. The tragedy is that 
there are too many of theni, and that they are aimless, 
having outgrown the servile functions for which they 
were encouraged to multiply. One day these huge 
crowds will have to seize power because there will be 

^ ‘ We are not yet ripe for growing up in the streets . . . has 
any good ever come out of the foul-clustering town-proletariat, 
beloved of humanitarians? Nothing — ^never; they are only 
waiting for a leader, some ‘inspired idiot* to rend to pieces our 
poor civilization.* — ^norman Douglas: Siren Land^ ipir. 

35 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

nothing else for them to do, and yet they neither demand 
power nor are ready to make use of it; they will learn 
only to be bored in a new way. Sooner or later the 
population of England will turn Communist, and then 
take over. Some form of State Socialism is the only 
effective religion for the working class; its coming is 
therefore as inevitable as was that of Christianity. The 
Liberal Die-hard then grows to occupy historically 
the same position as the ‘good Pagan": he is doomed 
to extinction. 

While we re-live the horrors of the Dark Ages, of absolute 
States and ideological wars, the old platitudes of 
liberalism loom up in all their glory, familiar streets 
as we reel home furious in the dawn. 

Wisdom of de QunsrcEy 

de Quincey: decadent English essayist who, at the age 
of seventy-five, was carried off by h a lf a century of 
opium-eating. 

'Mamage had corrupted itself through the facility 
of divorce and through the consequences of that facility 
(viz. levity in choosing and fickleness in adhering to 
Ae choice) into so exquisite a traflSc of selfishness that 
it could not yield so much as a phantom model of 
sanctity." 

* By the law I came to know sin." 

On the first time he took opium in 1 804 : ‘ It was Sunday 
afternoon, wet and cheerless; and a duller spectacle 
this earth of ours has not to show than a rainy Sunday 
in London." 

The m^ry of drugs: How did savage all over the 
worid, in every climate, discover in frozen tundras or 
3 ^ 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


remote jungles the one plant, indistinguishable from so 
many others of the same species, which could, by a 
most elaborate process, bring them fantasies, intoxica- 
tion, and freedom from care? How unless by help 
from the plants themselves? Opium-smokers in the 
East become surrounded by cats, dogs, birds and even 
spiders, who are attracted by the smell. The craving 
for the drug proceeds from the brain-cells which revolt 
and overrule the will. The Siberian tribes who eat 
Agaric say, ‘The Agaric orders me to do this or that’ — 
the Has h ish chewers experience a like sensation. Horses 
and cattle which become ‘indigo eaters’ continue to 
gorge till they drop dead. Though one of the rarest 
and most obscure drugs, Peotl gave its name to a range 
of uninhabited mountains where it is found. 

The Greeks and Romans looked on alcohol and opium 
as lovely twin reconcilers to living and dying presented 
to man by Dionysus and Morpheus, — God-given 
because of their extraordinary sympathy to us and 
because of the mystery attending their discovery. If 
man be part of nature, then his parasites may well 
understand him better than he knows. 

Since there are flowers whose fertilization is impossible 
except by means of an insect, flowers which eat insects 
and therefore understand them, since so low and uncon- 
scious an order has these correspondences with the 
one above, may there not be animals and birds who 
make use of man and study his habits and if they do, 
why not insects and vegetables? What grape, to keep 
its place in the sim, taught our ancestors to make wine? 

Everything is a dangerous drug to me except reality, 
which is imendurable. Happiness is in the imagination. 
What we perform is always inferior to what we imagine; 
yet day-dreaming brings guilt; there is no happiness 

37 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

except through freedom from Angst and only creative 
work, communion with nature and helping others are 
Anxiety-free. 

Fraternity is the State’s bribe to the individual; it is 
the one virtue which can bring courage to members 
of a materialist society. All State propaganda exalts 
comradeship for it is this gregarious herd-sense and 
herd-smell which keep people from thinking and so 
reconcile them to the destruction of their private 
lives. A problem for government writers or for the 
war artists in their war cemeteries: how to convert 
Fraternity into an aesthetic emotion ? 

Subversive thought for the year: ‘Every man is to be 
respected as an absolute end in himself; and it is a 
crime against the dignity that belongs to him to use him 
as a mere means to some external purpose.’ — ^kant. 

‘If I had to choose between betra5ring my coimtry and 
betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts 
to betray my country.’ This statement by Mr. E. M. 
Forster reminds us how far we have wandered from 
the ancient conception of friendship, of treating a 
kindred soxil as an end not a means. ‘The Chinese poet 
recommends himself as a friend, the Western poet as 
a lover,’ writes Arthur Waley; but the Western prose- 
writer also used to recommend himself as a friend; the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries elaborated friend- 
ship and all but made it their religion. In the circle 
of Johnson, of Walpole and Madame du Deffand or 
of the Encyclopaedists nobody could live without his 
friend. They loved them and even a misanthropic 
philosopher like La Bruy^re could grow sentimental 
over the tbmie. Only the invalid Pascal demolished 
fifendship on the ground that if we could read each 
tuber’s thoughts it would disappear. 

3B 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


Now the indTistriaiization of the w’orld, the totali- 
tarian State, and the egotism of materialism have made 
an end to friendship; the first through speeding up 
the tempo of human communication to the point 
where no one is indispensable, the second by making 
such demands on the individual that comradeship can 
be practised between workers and colleagues only for 
the period of their co-operation, and the last by empha- 
sizing whatever is fundamentally selfish and nasty in 
people, so that we are unkind about our friends and 
resentful of their intimacy because of something which 
is rotting in ourselves. We have developed S3mipathy 
at the expense of loyalty. 

How many people drop in on us? That is a criterion 
of friendship. Or may tell us our faults ? To how many 
do we give imexpected presents? With whom can we 
remain silent? The egocentric personality require, 
alas, a changing audience, not a constant scrutiny. 
Romantic lovers are disloyal and, by making fun of old 
friends, they hit upon a congenial way of entertaining 
each other. 

Voltaire on Friendship: ‘C’est im contrat tacite entre 
deux personnes sensibles et vertueuses. Je dis seTtsibles 
car un moine, xm solitaire peut n’6tre point mechant 
et vivre sans connaitre Famitie. Je dis vertueuses^ car 
les mechants n’ont que des complices, les voluptueux 
ont des compagnons de debauche, les int^resses ont 
des associes, les politique assemblent des ficheux, le 
commun des hommes oisifs a des liaisons, les princes ont 
des courtisans : les hommes vertueux ont seuls des amis/ 
When we see someone living alone, like a beech-tree 
in a clearing, with no other signs of life around him 
yet proclaiming his freedom, displa3rmg his possessions 
and maintaining his devotion to his friends, we can be 
sure that such a person is an ogre and that human 
bone-meal lies bxiried under his roots. 


39 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 


Masterplay 

Three requisites for a work of art: validity of the m3rth, 
vigour of belief, intensity of vocation. Examples of 
valid mirths: The Gods of Olympus in Ancient Greece; 
the City of Rome and afterwards the Roman Empire; 
Christianity; the discovery of Man in the Renaissance 
with its consequence, the Age of Reason; the myths 
of Romanticism and of Material Progress (how powerful 
is the myth of bourgeois life in the work of the Impress- 
ionist painters!). The belief in a myth whose validity 
is diminishing will not produce such great art as the 
belief in one which is valid, and none is valid today. 
Yet no myth is ever quite worthless as long as there 
remains one artist to honour it with his faith, 

O for the past, when a masterpiece was enough to 
maintain a reputation for life! All Catullus, Tibullus 
and Propertius fit into the same volume; Horace and 
Virgil require but one tome, so do La Fontaine and 
La Bruyere. One book for each lifetime and the rest is 
fame, ease and freedom from Angst. Nature was so 
indulgent; if we could but write one good book every 
twelve years we would have done as well as Flaubert, 
Voltaire wrote Candida when he was sixty-five. Peacock 
wrote Gryll Grange at seventy-five, at eighty Joinville 
began his Life of St. Louis. Waste is a law of art as it 
is of nature. There is always time. 

Every good writer must discover the yawning crevasse 
which separates Man’s finite destiny from his infinite 
potentialities. It is afterwards that he will reveal his 
artistic courage and so regfeter the protest which is 
a final plea for order, his GuMiver^s Travelsy his Maxims^ 
his Songs of Experience^ his Saison en Enfer^ his Fleurs 
du Mol. llie rest either pretend that they have seen 
not h i ng , and that all is well, or else howl with self-pity. 
4 ^ 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


Optimism and self-pity are the positive and negative 
poles of contemporary cowardice. 

What makes the great writers of the past vivid to us 
is the extent of their misery; the despair of Pascal, the 
bitterness of La Rochefoucauld, the ennui of Flaubert, 
the ‘noia’ of Leopardi, the ‘spleen’ of Baudelaire, — 
none but the truths which have been extracted under 
mental torture appeal to us. We live in so desperate 
an age that any happiness which we possess must be 
hidden like a deformity, for we know that, though all our 
nature revolt, we can create only through what we suffer. 

‘We are all conceived in close prison . . . and then all 
our life is but a going out to the place of execution, 
to death. Nor was there any man seen to sleep in the 
cart between Newgate and Tyburn — between prison 
and the place of execution, does any man sleep? But 
we sleep all the way; from the womb to the grave we 
are never thoroughly awake.’ — ^ donne. 

A modem Rune: ‘Pooey on the war!’ No one can 
pronounce these foxir words and not feel a tremor of 
earth-shaking dimension. And not until the two thou- 
sand and fifty million belligerents can thunder them in 
unison, will the war be over. 

A Rune for the very bored: When very bored recite: 
‘It was during the next twenty minutes that there 
occurred one of those tiny incidents which revolutionize 
the whole course of our life and alter the face of history. 
Truly we are the playthings of enormous fates.* 

The ten-year torture of two faces. ‘The tyranny of 
the human face.’ When we see a friend in the depth 
of despair because he has been left by someone 
whom we know to be insignificant, we must remember 

4 ^ 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

that there is a way of leaving and yet of not leaving; 
of hinting that one loves and is willing to return, yet 
never coming back and so preserving a relationship in 
a lingering decay. This technique can be learnt like 
a hold in jiu-jitsu. The person who has been abandoned 
is always psychologically groggy; the ego is wounded 
in its most tender part and is forced back on the separa- 
tion and rejection phobias of infancy. Someone who 
knows how to prolong this state and to reproduce it at 
will can be quite insignificant, — so is the sand-wasp 
which stings a grub in the nerve-centre where it will 
be paralysed, yet remain alive. 

Axiom: There is no happiness to be obtained by the 
destruction of another’s. To take wife away from husband 
or husband from wife, is a kind of murder; guilt turns 
lovers into bad accomplices and the wrecking of a 
home destroys the wreckers. As we leave others, so 
shall we be left. 

There is immunity in reading, immunity in formal 
soaety, in office routine, in the company of old friends 
and in the giving of officious help to strangers, but there 
is no sanctuary in one bed from the memory of another. 
The past with its anguish will break through every 
defence-line of custom and habit; we must sleep and 
dierefore we must dream. 

And in our dreams, as in the vacant afternoons of 
London week-ends, there enter the excluded, the 
disinherited, the heartbroken, the heart-breakers, the 
saboteurs and wrecking crews of our daylight selves. 
6vpa^€ Bone-crunching hyenas! 

The harbour of Cassis on a bright winter morning; 
a gull is floating a few yards from the quay, unable to 
^‘Spectres avaimtl* Ancient Gredc spelL 


4 ^ 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


rise because its wings are fouled with oil. The fisher- 
children pelt it with stones, I drive them off; laughing 
they run across to the farther side and begin again, 
the stones falling around the dying bird as it bobs on 
the water like a painted decoy. 

While xinder its storm-beaten breast 

Cried out the hollows of the sea. 

Causes of Angst: Angst is inherent in the uncoiling 
of the ego, the tapeworm, the ver solitaire. It dwells 
in the Lacrinue Renmiy in the contrasting of the Past 
with the Present. It lurks in old loves and old letters 
or in our despair at the complexity of modem life. 

Effect: IVIisery, disgust, tears, guilt. 

Temporary cures: (i) Lunch with a new friend, 
gossip, literary talk, i.e. appeals to vanity; (2) Art 
(Renoir landscapes), the true escape into Timelessness \ 
(3) The office personality (Alibi Ike); (4) Old friends, 
(relationships which date from before the Fall). 

Angoisse des Gares: A particularly violent form of 
Angst. Bad when we meet someone at the station, but 
worse when we are seeing them off; not present when 
we are departing ourselves, but unbearable when 
arriving in London, if only from a day in Brighton, 
Since all Angst is identical, we may learn something 
from these station-fears: Arrival- Angst is closely 
connected with guilt, with the dread of something 
terrible having happened during our absence. Death 
of parents. Entry of bailiffs. Flight of loved one. Sensa- 
tion worse at arriving in the evening than in the morning, 
and much worse at Victoria and Waterloo than at 
Paddington. This may have b^n due in my case to 
my way of going abroad every vacation and therefore 
returning to London with guilt-feelings about having 

43 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

spent my money or not written to my parents, and to 
endless worry over work and debt.^ Going to London 
as a schoolboy was a treat, as an undergraduate an 
ordeal, a surrender to justice. Later on the trips abroad 
grew longer, and returns were painful because of 
neglected household worries, and through a particularly 
strong guilt-feeling about not being at work, out- 
distanced by successful stay-at-home friends. But this 
is not all, for much of our anxiety is caused by horror 
of London itself; of the hideous entrails seen from the 
southern approaches, the high cost of living, the slums 
where we may die, embodiment of ugly and unnatural 
urban existence. When living in France, I began to 
have a similar feeling about Paris, though it has none 
of the same associations, I therefore deduce, that though 
it is wrong for us to live and work in great cities, to 
live away from them without working is worse. Angst 
begins at Reading, Woking or Croydon, or even in 
Paris, when we see the first grisly English faces home- 
ward bound at the Gare du Nord. 

If, instead of Time’s notorious and incompetent remedy, 
there was an operation by which we could be cured 
of loving, how many of us would not rush to have it! 

To be kept for six months in a refrigerator or to 
hibernate in deep narcotic sleep, to be given new drugs, 
new glands, a new heart, and then to wake up with &e 
memory swept dear of farewells and accusations, 
never more to be haunted by the grief-stricken eyes 
of our assassinated murderers I 

But Angst descends; I wake up in anxiety; like a fog 
it overlays all my action, and my days are muffled with 
anguish. Somewhere in the mind are crossed the wires 

* But why was I extravagant, why couldn’t I write to them? 
—A deeper level of anxiety becomes apparent. 

44 



ECCE GUBERNATOR 


of fear and lust and all day long nature’s burglar-alarm 
shrills out in confusion. I dread the bell, the post, the 
telephone, the sight of an acquaintance. Anguish, 
anxiety, remorse and guilt: tout est degout et 
MiSE RE . When even despair ceases to serve any creative 
purpose, then surely we are justified in suicide. For 
what better ground for self-destruction can there be 
than to go on making the same series of false moves 
which invariably lead to the same disaster, and to repeat 
a pattern without knowing what it is or wherein 
lies the flaw? And yet to perceive that in ourselves 
there revolves a cycle of activity which is certain to 
end in paralysis of the will, desertion, panic and despair 
— always to go on loving those who have ceased to 
love us, those who have quite lost all resemblance to 
the beings whom once we loved! Suicide is catching: 
what if the agony which self-murderers go through while 
being driven to take their own lives, the conviction 
that all is lost, be infectious also? And if you have 
contracted it, Palinurus, if it has sought you out? 

TE PALINURE PETENS, TIBI SOMNIA TRISTIA 
PORTANS INSONTI?^ 

Madame du Deffand to Horace Walpole: 

‘Ennui. C’est ime maladie de Tame dont nous afflige 
la nature en nous donnant Texistence; c’est le ver 
solitaire qui absorbe tout . . . “Ah! je le repute sans 
cesse, il n’y a qu’un malheur, celui d’etre ne.” 

Comment est-il possible qu’on craigne la fin d’lme 
vie aussi triste . . , Divertissez-vous, mon ami, le plus 
que vous pourrez; ne vous aflSiigez point de mon itat, 
nous 6tions presque perdus Tun pour Tautre; nous ne 
nous devions jamais revoir; vous me regretterez, parce 
qu’on est bien aise de se savoir aim6.’ 

^ Xooking for you, Palinurus, bringing you sad visions which 
you have not deserved’. 


45 



PART I 


TE PALINURE PETENS 


‘You are very wise, very understanding and really 
very kindly. I wonder that you remain the critic. You 
can go beyond. You must have great fears and doubts, 
and you have overlaid another personality on the 
original one, a protective masked being wHch 
with what you im^e to be a harsh, cruel world.’— 
HENRY MILLER to PalinUTUS. 

‘Had I followed my pleasure and chosen what I plainly 
have a decided talent for: police spy, I should have 
been much happier than I afterwards became.’ — 
KIERKEGAARD— 1843. 

‘Ne cherchez plus mon cceur; les betes Pont mang6.’ 

April Message 

Pad up. Your situation is untenable, your loss irretriev- 
able y m hiy remedio. change your bedding P 

Orate Pro Nobis 

Philip Heseltine, Harry Crosby, Rene Crevel, Mara 
Andrews.® 

® Lamas do not die, but, on reincaination, are said to * change 
tfadr bedding.’ ‘And there is no remedy. From a drawing 
a dead man by Goya. 

Heseltine (Peter Warlock) took his life by gas on 17th 

l^oember 1930, aged tiurty-six. The conmer read out part of 
46 



TE PALI NU RE PE TENS 


Spring in the Square, when the nile-green tendrils of 
the plane uncurl against the blue and the Tree of 
Heaven prepares a book-plate entry; a soldier and has 
girl come in to kiss because the gate is open, it locks as 
5bey close it behind them and, hours later, they still 
wander round and round the empty garden like insects 
tr3dng to escape from a pitcher plant. Lying on the fresh 
grass in the sun I read about opium as one would enquire 
about a new religion. Confessions of an opium-reader! 
Opium made de Quincey great and Cocteau serious. 
Would it prove the remedy, the ‘Heart-balm’? To 
take a drug which exploded all the minefields of memory! 
And afterwards to come out not knowing who we are, 
not even being able to read and then to learn, and to 
discover some writers to 'whom we were strangely 
attracted, — as if we had known them in another life! 
And then as a fresh start to develop an Adult Personality, 
to attest that the one way to be happy is to make 
other people happy; that virtue is social. ‘Happiness 
lies in the approval of our fellow-men, unhappiness 
in their disapproval; to earn one is virtue, the other 
vice,’ That is what 1 should teach, and if sometimes 
it sounded rather dull, that could only mean I was 
a little constipated. 


a letter; * I would very much rather visit you at some other time 
than Christmas. It is a season of the year which I dislike more 
and more as time goes on.’ 

Harry Crosby (according to Mr, Cowley in ExUe^s Return) 
planned his ‘ felo de se’ on 31st October 1942, at the end of his 
fortieth year, by flying his plane till it crashed, ‘ a sim death into 
sun/ Unable to wait, he shot himself in New York in 1929. 

Ren6 Crevel, surrealist poet, shot himself in Paris in 1935, 
aged thirty- four. He left a note: ‘ Je suis d^outd de tout’. 

Mara Andrews, once of the Ile-Saint-Louis, committed suicide 
in New York while this was being written, aged thirty-two- 

47 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Civilization is an active deposit which is formed by the 
combustion of the Present with the Past. Neither in 
coxmtries without a Present nor in those without a 
Past is it to be encountered. Proust in Venice, Matisse*s 
birdcages overlooking the flower market at Nice, Gide 
on the seventeenth-century quais of Toulon, Lorca in 
Granada, Picasso by Saint-Germain-des-Pr6s : there 
lies civilization and for me it can exist only under those 
liberal regimes in which the Present is alive and there- 
fore capable of assimilating the Past. Civilization is 
maintained by a very few people in a small number of 
places and we need only some bombs and a few prisons 
to blot it out altogether. 

The civilized are those who get more out of life than 
the uncivilized, and for this we are not likely to be 
forgiven. One by one, the Golden Apples of the West 
are shaken from the tree. 

The quince, coing, membrillo, marmelata, pyrus 
cydonia or portugalensis; emblem of love and happiness 
to the Ancients, was the golden fruit of the Hesperides 
and the love-apple which Greek maidens used to give 
their boys. It was also a Chinese S 3 imbol of long life 
and passion. I behold it in an emblem of the civilization 
of Europe with its hard flesh, bright colour and unearthly 
savour. The simple flower, the astringent fruit which 
ripens only in the south, the mysterious pips full of 
emulgent oil — ^aU are significant. There are artists like 
quinces, ^of quaint and loose habit,’ whose fragrance 
does not cloy. 

Mysteries of nature: The properties of the quince, of 
the truffle (a truffle placed near a fresh egg will impreg- 
nate it with its odour), of the opium poppy and the 
peotl bud; the stormy life of wine; the cry of the cicada 
and the death’s-head moth, the flight of the stag- 
4S 



TE PALINURE F EVENS 


beetle, the philoparasitism of the ant, the gaze of the 
mantis^; lemons and the scent of lemon- verbena and 
lemon-scented magnolia, the colour of gentians, the 
texture of water-lilies, the vegetable view of man. The 
smell of cigar-smoke, of coffee being roasted or of wine- 
barrels and of herbs in cooking is irresistible and demon- 
strates how intense and mutual is our collaboration. 

Never would it occur to a child that a sheep, a pig, 
a cow or a chicken w^as good to eat, while, like Milton’s 
Adam, he would eagerly make a meal off fruit, nuts, 
thyme, mint, peas and broad beans which penetrate 
further and stimulate not only the appetite but other 
vague and deep nostalgias. We are closer to the Vegetable 
Kingdom than we know; is it not for man alone that 
mint, thyme, sage, and rosemary exhale ‘ crush me and 
eat meT — for us that opium poppy, coffee-berry, tea- 
plant and vine perfect themselves? Their aim is to be 
absorbed by us, even if it can only be achieved by 
attaching themselves to roast mutton. 

‘Les hommes et les insectes font partie de la meme 
nature.’ — gaillois. 

Why do ants alone have parasites whose intoxicating 
moistures they drink and for whom they will sacrifice 
even their yoimg? Because as they are the most highly 
socialized of insects, so their lives are the most intolerable. 

Protective colouring in insects represents not only their 
defence against the creatures who prey on them but 
their homage to the vegetables by whom they are 
guarded. The insect resembles a lerf at the wish of a 
tree. The vast vegetable world governs the tiny animal 
world by letting itself be assimilated. 

^ * EUe spouse, elle tue et eile n^est que plus belle.* — 
(binet on the Mantis.) 

£ 


49 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Why do sole and turbot borrow the colours and even 
the contours of the sea-bottom? Out of self-protection? 
No, out of self-disgust. 

The civilization of the nineteenth century was founded 
on Coal, Electricity and Central Heating. These brought 
to the northern countries continuous industrial energy 
and a corresponding increase of population. With air- 
conditioning the civilization of the twentieth century 
can move south. This invention, by restoring their 
dynamic to the Mediterranean countries, may yet save 
Europe. We may even abolish the desert and the siesta 
as far south as Khartoum and Dakar, we may live to 
see the Mediterranean become as industrialized as the 
Great Lakes with Barcelona as Chicago and Athens as 
Detroit. England will appeal to these new and ventilated 
Carthaginians as a summer resort: a grey little fey little 
island. 

The goal of every culture is to decay through over- 
civilization; the factors of decadence, — ^luxury, scepti- 
cism, weariness and superstition,— are constant. The 
civilization of one epoch becomes the manure of the 
next. Everything over-ripens in the same way. The 
disasters of the world are due to its inhabitants not 
being able to grow old simultaneously. There is always 
a raw and intolerant nation eager to destroy the tolerant 
and mellow. With the Brave New World we may hope 
to see vdiole populations on an equal footing, until all 
the nations wither in unison. We may say with Fontenelle 
*11 faut du temps pour miner un monde, mais enfin, 
il ae faut que du temps*. 

Tliere was once a man (reputed to be the wisest in the 
world) who, although livii^ to an untold age, confined 
his teaching to the one command: ‘Endure!* At 
SO 



TE PA LI NU RE PE TENS 

length a rival arose who challenged him to a debate 
wrhich took place before a large assembly, ‘You say 
“Endure”, cried his competitor, ‘but I donH want to 
endure. I wish to love and to be loved, to conquer and 
create, I wish to know what is right, then do it and be 
happy.’ There was no reply from his opponent, and, 
on looking more closely at the old creature, his adversary 
found him to consist of an odd-shaped rock on which 
had taken root a battered thorn that represented, by an 
optical illusion, the impression of hair and a beard. 
Triumphantly he pointed out the mistake to the authori- 
ties but they were not intimidated. ‘Man or rock,* they 
answ’ered, ‘does it really matter?’ And at that moment 
the wind, reverberating through the sage’s moss-grown 
orifice, repeated with a hollow soimd: ‘Endure!’ 

A love-affair can prosper only when both parties enter 
free. If one lover is free and the other not, then in the 
process of destroying their rival or the memory of their 
rival, the one who is free will destroy the illusion of 
their own virtue. A couple jointly possess so much of 
their two selves that to hurt one is to wound the other, 
and, even if they are wounded willii^ly, resentment is 
set up. When we want a house we go to the house- 
agent and inquire what is on the market; we do not 
pick on the first one we like and force the tenant to 
leave. The romantic prestige of adultery comes from 
exaggerating the importance of chastity in the unmarried. 
If fornication were no sin, then adultery would be 
condemned, for it is a token form of murder. We do 
not miirder the rival husband or wife but we murder 
their image in the eyes of those whom they love and 
so prepare for the cancer of the ego and the slow death 
by desertion. If our society allowed promiscuity only to 
the free, that is to the unmarried or to those who had 
both agreed on separation, and if it punished the breaking- 
s' 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

up of homes as it punishes robbery-with-violence, 
then the nervous breakdowns, the resort to alcohol 
and drugs, would disappear with much of the incurable 
unhappiness of the betrayed and forsaken. 

The particular charm of marriage, which may grow 
irresistible to those who once have tasted it, is the 
duologue, the permanent conversation between two 
people who talk over everything and everyone till death 
breaks the record. It is tins back-chat which, in the long 
run, makes a reciprocal equality more intoxicating than 
any form of servitude or domination. But for the artist 
it may prove dangerous; he is one of those who must 
look alone out of the window and for him to enter into 
the duologue, the non-stop performance of a lifetime, 
is a kind of exqiiisite dissipation which, despite the 
pleasure of a joint imderstanding of the human comedy, 
is likely to deprive him of those much rarer moments 
which are particularly his own. For this reason great 
artists are not always those who repose the most entire 
confidence in their wives (this is why second wives 
are sometimes best) and the relation of many an artist 
to his wife is apt to puzzle the spectator. 

May I St: Today we begin a new pincer movement 
against Angst, Melancholia and Memory’s ever- 
festering wound: a sleeping-pill to pass the night and 
a Benzedrine to get through the day. The sleeping-pill 
produces a thick sleep, rich in dreams that are not so 
much dreams as tangible experiences, the Benzedrine 
a kind of gluttonous mental anger through which the 
sadness persists — O how sad, — ^but very much farther 
off. Whether they can ever combine in the mind to 
produce a new energy remains to be proven. 

When I take Vitamin B, Metatone or other tonics, 
they r^sder me calm, coarse and sensual; the voice 
5 ^ 



TE PALINURE PETENS 

becomes deeper, the manner more robust. Yet I am 
aware that this is not my real personality, but a toned-up 
film version, an escape from the serious ego, and soon I 
return to my true diffident and dyspeptic seif. Confi- 
dence does not become me. 

Ennui is the condition of not fulfilling our potentialities; 
remorse of not having fulfilled them; anxiety of not 
being able to fulfil them, — but what are they? 

Let us take such a simple idea as the desire to improve, 
to bea>me better. Is it a natural human instinct or is 
it the result of early conditioning? Crocodiles, king- 
crabs, eagles, do not evolve and yet they seem perfectly 
content with their humble status. And many human 
beings enjoy a quiet existence without feeling themselves 
obliged to expand or develop. With the desire to evolve 
arises the fear of remaining static, or guilt. If there 
were no parents to make us try to be good, no school- 
masters to persuade us to learn, no one who wished to 
be proud of us, would not we be happier? Promise is 
the white child’s burden of which the savage, in his 
pre-mental bliss, has never heard. When we are sick 
we- revert to our childhood patterns. Do we not live 
according to them in some degree when we are well? 
Heard, for example, is the son of a puritan clergyman, 
Huxley is by birth a public-spirited Victorian; what is 
their evolutionary zeal but a duty-reflex conditioned 
by their upbringing? Does Nature care in the least 
whether we evolve or not? Her instincts are for the 
gratification of himger and sex, the destruction of rivals 
and the protection of offspring. What monster first 
slipped in the idea of progress? Who destroyed our 
conception of happiness with these growing-pains ? 


53 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Masterplay 

The triple decadence: Decadence of the material; of 
the writer’s language. The virgin snow where Shake- 
speare and Montaigne used to cut their deep furrows, 
is now but a slope flattened by innumerable tracks 
until it is unable to receive an impression. Decadence 
of the myth, for there is no longer a unifying belief 
(as in Christianity or in Renaissance Man) to permit 
a writer a sense of awe and of awe which he shares with 
the mass of humanity. And even the last myth of all, 
the myth of the artist’s vocation, of ‘rhomme c’est rien, 
Toeuvre c’est tout’, is destroyed by the times, by the 
third decadence, that of society. In our lifetime we have 
seen the arts advance further and further into an obscure 
and sterile cul-de-sac. Science has done litde to help 
the artist, beyond contributing radio, linotype and 
the cinema; inventions which enormously extend his 
scope, but which commit him more than ever to the 
policy of the State and the demands of the ignorant. 
Disney is the tenth-rate Shakespeare of our age, forced 
by his universal audience to elaborate his new-world 
sentimentality with increasing slickness. There may 
arise Leonardos of the screen and microphone who 
will astound us but not until the other arts have declined 
into regional or luxury crafts, like book-binding, 
cabinet-making, thatching or pargetting. Today an 
artist must expect to write in water and to cast in sand. 

Yet to live in a decadence need not make us despair; 
it is but one technical problem the more which a writer 
to solve. 

Even in the most socialized community, there must 
always be a few vfbo best serve it fay being kept isolated. 
Hie artist, like the mystic, naturalist, mathematician 
S4 



TE PALINURE FETENS 


or ‘leader’, makes his contribution out of his solitude. 
This solitude the State is now attempting to destroy, 
and a time may come when it will no more tolerate 
private inspiration. State Socialism in politics is bound 
to lead to social realism in the arts, until the position 
is reached that whatever the common man does not 
understand is treason. Yet it is a mistake completely 
to identify the State with a philistine father-figure and 
so to react blindly against it. For the State includes 
its own critics and their objections may lead to change. 
Today the State shows a benevolent face to Culture- 
Diffusion but to those who produce culture no trace 
of sympathy or indulgence, -with the result that we are 
becoming a nation of commentators, of critics and 
hack-explainers, most of "whom are ex-artists. Every- 
thing for the Milk-bar, nothing for the cow! Patiendy 
and obstinately the artist must convince the State that, 
in the long run, it will be judged by its art and that, if 
the State is to replace the private patron, then it must 
imitate and even surpass that patron’s tolerance, 
humility and liberality. When will the State say, ‘ Here is 
a thousand pounds, young man; go anywhere you like for 
six months, and bring me back something beautiful* ? 

A great artist is like a fig-tree whose roots run a 
hundred feet underground in search of tea-leaves, 
cinders and old boots. Art which is directly produced 
for the Community can never have the same with- 
drawn quality as that which is made out of the artist’s 
solitude. For this possesses the integrity and bleak 
exhilaration that are to be gained only from the absence 
of an audience and from communion with the primal 
sources of imconscious life. One caimot serve both 
beauty and power: *1^ pouvoir est essentieHement 
stupide.’ A public figure can never be an artist and no 
artist should ever become one unless, his work being 
done, he should choose to retire into public life. 


55 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

An artist grows into a public figure through being 
always willing to address strangers. ‘Pauvre et sans 
honneurs/ wrote Valery of Mallarme, ‘la nudite de sa 
condition avilissait tons les avantages des autres . . . 
Tout leur semblait naif et lache apr^ qu’ils I’avaient lu.’ 

A Chinese Parallel: Hui Tzu w*as prime minister in 
the Liang State. Chuang Tzu went thither to visit him. 

Someone remarked: ‘Chuang Tzu has come. He 
wants to be minister in your place.’ 

Thereupon Hui Tzu w’as afraid, and searched all 
over the State for three days and three nights to find 
him. 

Then Chuang Tzu went to see Hui Tzu and said: 
‘In the south there is a bird. It is a kind of phcenix. Do 
you know it ? It started from the south sea to fly to the 
north sea. Except on the wu-t’ung tree it would not 
alight. It would eat nothing but the fruit of the bamboo, 
drink nothing but the purest spring water. An owl which 
had got the rotten carcass of a rat looked up as the 
phoenix flew by, and screeched. Are you not screeching 
at me over your kingdom of Liang?’ {Musir^s of a 
Chinese Mystic.) 

May 4th: Failure of pincer movement. Am unwilling 
to take sleeping pills which are used up by my fidends. 
Benzedrine has lost effect. Apathy, sluggishness and 
morning tears return with the sense of ‘All-is-lost’ and 
the torture of two faces. 

. . . et me laissez enfin 

Dans ce petit coin sombre avec mon noir chagrin. 

What is the use of useless suffering ? Where is the escape ? 
What can one ever mate out of the nessun mag^or dohrey 
the stranglehold of the past, the heart broken but never 
56 



TE FALINURE PETENS 

dead? ‘Je le repete sans cesse, il n’y a qu’un malheur, 
celui d’etre ne.’ 

Is it possible to love any human being without being 
tom limb from limb ? No one was ever made wretched 
in a brothel; there need be nothing angst-forming about 
the sexual act. Yet a face seen in the tube can destroy 
our peace for the rest of the day, and once a mutual 
attraction develops it is too late; for when sexual emo- 
tion increases to passion, then something starts growing 
which possesses a life of its own and which, easily 
though it may be destroyed by ignorance and neglect, 
^dll die in agony and go on dying after it is dead. 

As bees their sting, so the promiscuous leave behind 
them in each encounter something of themselves by 
which they are made to suffer. 

It is the fear of middle-age in the young, and of old-age 
in the middle-aged, which is the prime cause of infidelity, 
that infallible rejuvenator. 

When young we are faithful to individuals, older we 
grow more loyal to a situation or a type. Confronted 
by such specimens, we seem to know all about them in 
an instant (which is true) and thus in spite of our 
decreasing charm we sweep them off their feet, for 
young people do not imderstand themselves and, fortun- 
ately for us, can still be hypnotized by those who do. 

The mind has its own womb to which, baffled by specula- 
tion^ it longs to return; the womb of Homer and Hero- 
dotus, of the pastoral world where men and gods were 
ruled by the same passions and where all our personal 
problems seemed easy of solution- Then the womb fills 
with the Middle Ages, with the Popes, the Crusades 

57 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 


and the Renaissance. For some it stretches to include 
the court of Charles II, or the writers of the reign of 
Anne; it is the Hotel des Grands Hommes, the Pantheon 
of mythical or historical figures who were masters of 
their surroundings, arbiters of their destiny, and who 
went through life bundled together in a well-documented 
cat*s-cradle of losing intimacy. 

Desire to smoke opium comes back. ' It dulls the moral 
sense.’ 

In blackest noon the shutter falls 
That folds me from the slanting day. 

Before the night a Stranger calls 
Who strikes the fearless and the gay. 

There is no love however deep 
Can stay the verdict m his eye, 

There is no laugh however sweet 
Can drown the moment’s passing sigh. 

‘L’ob^ite a une influence ficheuse sur les deux sexes, 
en ce qu’elle nuit a la force et a la beaute . . . L’obesit6 
nuit k la beaute en detruisant Tharmonie de proportion 
primitivement 6tablie.’ 

* Proposer a des ob^es de se lever ie matin, c’est leur 
percer le cceur,’— brillat-savarin. 

Imprisoned m every fat man a thin one is wildly signalling 
to be let out. 

A lazy person, whatever the talents with which he set 
out, will have condemned himself to second-hand 
thoughts and to second-rate friends. 

Intense emotion, a mixture of relief and despair, at 
reading Sainte-Beuve’s notebook Mes PoisonSj and 

58 



TE PALINURE PE TENS 


discovering ‘This is me.’ This Elegiac, as he styled 
himself, who quotes my favourite lines of Latin 
poetry and who sums up happiness as reading Tibullus 
in the country ‘avec une femme qu’on aime,’ who calls 
himself Te dernier des delicats,’ who loved, suffered 
and was disillusioned, and yet who recognized love as 
the true source of happiness, who was sceptical of every- 
one and everything, a smaller man though a better 
artist than his romantic contemporaries; who loved 
the eighteenth century but was never taken in, who 
hated puritans and prigs and pedants but knew how 
the wine of remorse is trodden from the grapes of 
pleasure, and who, with ail his scholarship and self- 
analysis, was at heart a Taoist, respecting ^e essential 
mystery (Te vrai c’est le secret de quelques-uns’) and 
what he calls his ‘ame pastorale’, — how deeply moving 
to listen to such a voice from the past which in the 
present becomes an inspiration! I feel like a cringing 
cur kicked about in a crowd, which, running down an 
alley, finds there silence, an apprehension of revelation, 
and then, round a comer, comes suddenly upon a huge 
dark doggy statue, a canine colossus from another age; 
awe-inspiring and faith-restoring, lending him courage 
and wishing him well. 


Wisdom of Sainte-Beuve (1804-69) 

‘ L’^icureisme bien compris est la fin de tout,’ 

‘Que m’importe, pourvu que je fasse qmlque chose le 
matin, et que je sois quelgue part le soir.’ 

‘ La saturation, il y a un moment ou cela vient dans ce 
repas qu’on appeUe la vie: il ne faut qu’ime goutte alors 
pour faire deborder la coupe du degout,’ 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

*11 y a des moments ou la vie, le fond de la vie se rouvre 
au dedans de nous comma une plaie qui saigne et ne 
veut pas se farmer/ 

* Je suis reste avant tout im Elegiaque et un reveur. Une 
grande et solide partie des jours, meme aux annees 
reputees graves, s^est passee pour moi dans les regrets 
steriles, dans les vagues d^irs de Tattente, dans les 
melancolies et les langueurs qui suivent le plaisir/ 

* Je n’ai jamais congu Tamour sans le mystere, et la ob. 
etait le mystere, la pour moi deja etait Tamour/ 

*Ne me demandez pas ce que j’aime et ce que je crois, 
n*allez pas au fond de mon lime/ 

EPICTETUS : ^'VMien God fails to provide for you, then 
He is giving the signal of retreat. He has opened the 
door and says to you, **Come’’ — “Where? — “To 
nothing fearful, but thither whence you were bom, to 
things friendly and akin to you, the Elements’*/ 

Illumination: Tout mon mal vient de Paris. Rue 
Delambre, Quai d’ Anjou, Rue de Vaugirard. Aie! 

*Ahi tu passasti, etemo sospiro mio.’ 

The hard black ball of suicidal despair. The door is 
open. 

NERVAL: * Arrive sur la Place de la Concorde, ma 
pens^ etait de me detniire.’ 

Bad moment; the door is open, Paris ‘ma plaie et ma 
fatality/ 


The wind doth blow today my love 
And a few small drops of rain. 


6o 



TE PALINURE PETENS 


As the lights in the penitentiary grow dim when the 
current is switched on for the electric chair, so we quiver 
in our hearts at a suicide, for there is no human life 
self-taken for which all society is not to blame. 

Wisdom of Chamfort (1741-1794) 

‘L’indecision, Fanxiete sont a Fesprit et a Fame ce que 
la question est au corps.’ 

‘Les passions font vivre Fhomme; la sagesse le fait 
seulement durerJ 

‘Quand on a bien tourmente, bien fatigu^ par sa 
propre sensibility, on s’aper9oit qu’il faut vivre au jour 
le jour, oublier beaucoup, enfin iponger la vie a mesure 
qu’eUe s’ecoule.’ 

‘Otez Famour-propre de Famour, il en reste trop peu 
de chose . . . Famour, tel qu’il existe dans la society, 
n’est que Fechange de deux fantaisies ec le contact de 
deux ypidennes,’ 

"Un homme amoureux qui plaint Fhomme raisonnable 
me parait ressembler k un homme qui lit des contes de 
fees, et qui raille ceux qui lisent Fhistoire.’ 

‘Presque tous les hommes sont esclaves, par la raison 
que les Spartiates donnaient de la servitude des Perses, 
faute de savoir prononcer la syllabe non. Savoir pro- 
noncer ce mot et savoir vivre seul sont les deux seuls 
moyens de conserver sa liberte et son caractereF 

In the jungles of South America grows a trumpet flower 
fourteen inches deep, and there too is found a moth with 
a proboscis of the same length, the one creature able 
to penetrate to the honey and so ensure the plant’s 

61 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

fertilization. I, Palinurus, am such an orchid, growing 
daily more untempting as I await the Visitor who never 
comes. 

On a pour ma personne une aversion grande 
et quelqu’tm de ces jours il faut que je me pende. 

Yet there are many who dare not kill themselves for 
fear of what the neighbours will say. 

In the small hours when the acrid stench of existence 
rises like sewer gas from everything created, the empti- 
ness of life seems more terrible than its misery, ' Inferum 
deploratasilenria’ . . . 

Streets of Paris, pray for me; beaches in the sun, pray 
for me; ghosts of the lemurs, intercede for me; plane- 
tree and laurel-rose, shade me; summer rain on quays 
of Toulon, wash me away. 

A young man who wished to marry consulted his uncle, 
an old courtier of the Prince of Wales’ set. 'No one will 
want to marry you as you are,’ said his uncle. 'You must 
get polish, pur own particular aroma. Take a house, 
get to know about furniture and painting, buy the new 
books, listen to music, know whom to entertain and 
how to shake a dry Martini. Then you’ll have something 
to offer and all the right mothers will snap you up.’ 
The young man did as he was told and, some jSfteen 
years later, he called again on the ancient week-ender of 
Fort Belvedere, whose old eyes now were seldom far 
from tears or alcohol, 

‘My house is perfect,’ squeaked the brittle youth, 
'the pictures are pure bliss, the bindings of green 
morocco catch the light of the evening sun; my Lotds 
Seize commodes belly out in the alosves, there are 
6a 



TE PALIN U RE PE TENS 


Malvern water and biscuits by every bed and in each 
lavatory the toilet-paper, loosely arranged in scented 
sheets, is -weighted down by a coloured stone. I^adies 
cry themselves into my life, then cough their vray out of 
it; nobody who comes to luncheon remembers after- 
w^ards anything they have said. I am at last perfectly 
eligible. What shall I do ? ’ 

The old Beau laughed and lit his third cigar. "Just 
carry on/ he chuckled ; * I think weVe got you out of 
the wood’. 

Bournemouth. Branksome Tower Hotel. Steamy 
tropical atmosphere, avenues of villas hidden in ever- 
greens; the hotel with long vine-himg veranda and lawn 
sloping to the sea, dimly visible through a group of 
leaning pine-trees. The pines here with their under- 
growth of rhododendron and arbutus form the northern- 
most tip of the maritime forest which stretches from 
Hossegor, near Bayonne, by the Landes and Royan, 
the He d’Oleron, La Rochelle, the Vendee coast. 
La Baule and the Landes of Brittany, to expire at 
Bournemouth and Le Touquet. Across the sea lies 
the imspoilt, uninhabited paradise of the Isle of Purbeck 
with its sandy beaches and chalk promontories. 

Led by chance to discover the hanging foot-bridge 
over Alum Chine. Walking over the quivering planks 
I felt rooted, as in a nightmare, to the spot in the centre 
where the asphalt road lies directly imdemeath, a 
leaden water-snake uncurling through pine and giant 
hemlock. To drag one’s sticky feet across was like 
plunging through a bog. What a place to make away 
with oneself or some loved one! 

L*eimui de la campagne; Tai^oisse des villes. Chaque 
fois que je rentre k Londres, j’assiste a un crime. 


63 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

I am now forced to admit that anxiety is my true condi- 
tion, occasionally intruded on by work, pleasure, 
melancholy or despair. 

stekel: ‘All neurotics are at heart religious. Their 
ideal is pleasure without guilt. The neurotic is a criminal 
without the courage to commit a crime . . . Every neurotic 
is an actor playing a particular scene. . . . Anxiety is 
repressed desire. Every individual who cannot find a 
form of sex-satisfaction adequate to himself suffers 
from an anxiety neurosis. ... It is the disease of a bad 
conscience.’ 

A mistake which is commonly made about neurotics 
is to suppose that they are interesting. It is not interesting 
to be always unhappy, engrossed with oneself, malignant 
or ungrateful, and never quite in touch with reality. 
Neurotics are heartless : as Baudelaire wrote ‘ tout homme 
qui n’accepte pas les conditions de la \ie vend son 
ime.’ 

The true index of a man’s character is the health of 
his wife. 

‘Aimer et hair, ce n’est qu’eprouver avec une passion 
singuliere I’etre d’un etre.* 

‘Quand I’univers considere avec indifference I’etre que 
nous aimons, qui est dans la verite?’ — jouhandeau. 

We t hi nk we recognize someone in passing. A mistake, 
but a moment later we run into them. This pre-view 
was our arrival on their wavelength, within their magnetic 
orbit. 

Like the glow-worm; dowdy, minute, passive, yet full 
of mystery to the poet and erotic significance to its 
64 



TE PALINURE PETENS 


fellows; so everything and everybody eternally radiate 
a dim light for those who care to seek. The strawberry 
hidden under the last leaf cries, " Pick me’ ; the forgotten 
book, in the forgotten bookshop, screams to be discovered. 
The old house hidden in the hollow agitates itself 
violently at the approach of its pre-destined admirer. 
Dead authors cry ‘Read me’; dead friends say ‘Remem- 
ber me’; dead ancestors whisper, ‘Unearth me’; dead 
places, ‘Revisit me’; and sympathetic spirits, living 
and dead, are continually trying to enter into com- 
munion. Physical or intellectual attraction between two 
people is a constant communication. Underneath the 
rational and voluntary world lies the involuntary, impul- 
sive, integrated world, the world of Relation in which 
everything is one; where sympathy and antipathy are 
engrossed in their selective tug-of-war. 

We learn a new word for the first time. Then it 
turns up within the next hour. Why? Because words 
are living organisms impelled by a crystallizing process 
to mysterious agglutinative matings at which the word- 
fancier is sometimes privileged to assist. The glow- 
worms light up. . . . The individual also is like a moving 
mirror or screen which reflects in its motion an ever- 
changing panorama of thoughts, sensations, faces and 
places, and yet the screen is always being guided to 
reflect one film rather than another, always seeking 
a chosen querencia. In the warm sea of experience we 
blob around like plankton, we love-absorb or hate- 
avoid each other or are avoided or are absorbed, de- 
voured and devouring. Yet we are no more free than 
the cells in a plant or the microbes in a drop of water 
but are all held firmly in tension by the pull of the 
future and the tug of the past. 

‘Du moment que je me fits assur6 de ce point que 
j’^tais soumis aux ^preuves de Finitiation sacree, une 

F 65 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

force invincible entra dans mon esprit. Je me jugeais 
iin heros vivant sous k regard des dieux; tout dans la 
nature prenait des aspects nouveaux, et des voix secretes 
sortaient de la plante, de Tarbre, des animaux, des 
plus humbles insectes, pour m’avertir et mkncourager. 
Le iangage de mes compagnons avait des tours myste- 
rieux dont je comprenais le sens, les objets sans forme 
et sans vie se pretaient eux-mones aux calculs de mon 
esprit; des combinaisons de cailloux, des figures d’angles, 
de fentes ou d’ouvertures, des decoupures de feuilles, 
des couleurs, des odeurs et des sons, je voyais ressortir 
des hannonies jusqu’alors inconnues. “Comment”, 
me disais-je, “ai-je pu exister si longtemps hors de la 
nature et sans m’ identifier a elle? Tout vit, tout agit, 
tout se correspond; les rayons magnetiques emanes de 
moi-meme ou des autres traversent sans obstacle la 
chaine infinie des choses creees; ckst un reseau trans- 
parent qui couvre le monde, et dont les fils defies se 
communiquent de proche en proche aux planetes et 
aux etoiles.” Captif en ce moment sur la terre, je 
mkntretiens avec le choeur des astres qui prend part a 
. mes joies eta mes douleuis!’ — G. de nerval : Aurelia?- 

In the break-up of religions and creeds there is but one 
deity whose worshippers have multiplied without a 
set-back. The Sun. In a few years there will be a stam- 

^ This piece, written by Nerval in his madness, resembles a 
late landscape of Van Gogh. The intense associations of atomical 
pantheism become what mental doctors call ‘Delusions of 
Reference \ In manic elation communication seems to exist 
between inanimate objects and the Observer. Flowers signal to 
him, stones cry out, and all nature approves. In suicidal 
depression the same phenomena arise, but in this case 
nature seems to pass a vote of censure; inanimate objects urge 
the Observer to make a thorough good job of it. Are both 
fatigue and ccst^y poisons which distort our relation to external 
re^ty ? Or do they liberate deep-buried instinctive perceptions 
of relationship to which normally we are blind? 

66 



TE PALINURE PETENS 


pede towards this supreme anaesthetic. Scotland will 
pour itself into Southern England, Canada into the 
U.S.A., the U.S.A, dwindle to Florida, California and 
New Mexico, while Southern Englanders will have 
migrated en masse to the Mediterranean. The temperate 
zone, especially for women, is becoming uninhabitable. 
Let us leave England to retired Generals and culture- 
diffusionists, goose-deshed politicians and bureaucrats, 
while the rest of us heliotropes cluster nearer to the 
great bronze disk of church-emptying Apollo, hardener 
of heart and skin. 

Jul}^: Once more the bold Dragonfly of pleasure has 
brushed me with its wing. Divine Sainte-Beuve, — 

* L’epicureisme bien compris’, — and Hume, the North- 
ern Epicurus. Late June, July and early August — 
fruit-eating months when the English become callous, 
pleasure-ridden, amorous and Elizabethan. It is neces- 
sary. 

After the long suicidal winter Pleasure comes to rescue 
us from the desert island of the ego and allow us two 
months’ grace. Good-bye sick Pascal and his mouldy 
troui>e; gaunt Kierkegaard, hunch-backed Leopardi, 
wheezing Proust and limping Epictetus with his Open 
Door! Midsummer greeting to La Fontaine, Congreve, 
Aristippus, Horace and Voltaire! Good-bye mor n i ng 
tears, ‘ All-is-lost% never-again, doubt, despair! Wel- 
come cheese-breathing hang-over, tipsy mornings for 
gargling poetry, asparagus afternoons, gull’s-egg even- 
ings, aJBFection slopping over into gossip, who was- 
there and ring-a-ling! Taoism at last rewarded! 
‘Flower o’ the Quince’, - . . Hour of the Broad Bean. 

If all the world loved pleasure zs much as Paliaunffi 
there would be no war. 

67 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

The Play-boy Permit 

I 

*Le plaisir cree une franc-magonnerie charmante. Ceux 
qui y sont prof^ se reconnaissent d’un din d’cEil, 
s’entendent sans avoir besoin de paroles, et il se passe 
la de ces choses imprevues, sans prelude et sans suites, 
de ces hasards de rencontre et de mystere qui echappent 
au recit, mais qui rempiissent Timagination et qui sont 
un des enchantements de la vie. Ceux qui y ont goute 
n’en veulent plus d’autres.* — sainte-beuve. 

n 

*Les hommes trouveront toujours que la chose la plus 
serieuse de leur existence, c’est jouir.’ — Flaubert. 

Dining-out is a vice, a dissipation of spirit punished by 
remorse. We eat, drink and talk a little too much, abuse 
all our friends, belch out our literary preferences 
and are egged on by accomplices in the audience to 
acts of mental exhibitionism. Such evenings cannot 
fail to diminish those who take part in them. They end 
on Monkey Hill. 

Society: A perfect dinner-party for sixteen. Each 
person as carefully chosen as an instrument in an 
orchestra, — ^yet how many of the guests would rather 
be engaged that evening in tete-a-tete? Or be glad to 
leave early for a brothel? 

Message from the Id 

‘If you would collect women instead of books, I 
think I could help you.’ 

‘And there came thunder and lightning and pestilence 
and famine and the people were sore afraid. And the 



TE P ALIN U RE PE TENS 


Lord spake out of the tempest and out of the whirl- 
wind and the earth quaked and all the people trembled 
with fear, and the Lord cried with a mighty voice: 
^‘When thou goest away for weekends thou shalt not 
stay over Monday; over thy luncheon not long shalt 
thou squat, nor shalt thou take taxis, nor buy books; 
third class thou shalt travel, not first; neither shalt 
thou drink wine nor giggle nor spoon; but thou shalt 
sorrow and sweat wherever thou goest, — for I the Lord 
thy God am a jealous God and behold I will crush 
thee as a slimy worm.” And lo, there fell a silence over 
the earth and the land lay barren a thousand years.’ 

Anxi ety again, en grande tenue. The two faces. Every- 
thing connected with them is excruciating: people, 
places, soxmds, smells, habits. An old letter coils up 
and explodes like a land-mine, an inscription in a book 
pronounces a life-sentence, gramophone records screech 
from the grave; even the harmless simbeam and the 
green surge of summer out of doors are decoys which 
ambush the heart at a sultry comer. Da dextram miserol 
O, never to have met or never to have parted! Living 
in the present (the one escape) can only be contrived 
by drugs, by an injection of work or pleasure or by the 
giving ‘which plays you least false*. The past is a 
festering woimd; the present the compress vainly 
applied, painfully tom off. Paris, Chelsea, Cannes — 
misere ! We are all serving a life-sentence in the dungeon 
of self. 

Sainte-Beuve’s poem, ‘Dans Tile Saint-Louis’. He knew. 

Imagination= nostalgia for the past, the absent; it is 
the liquid solution in which art develops the snapshots 
of reality. The artist secretes nostalgia round life, as a 
worm plasters its tunnel, a caterpillar spins a cocoon 

69 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

or as a sea-swallow masticates her nest* Art without 
imagination is as life without hope* 

Egotism sucks us do^vn like the law of gravity. In the 
small hours this law is somewhat weakened, we are less 
subject to it and even the self-centredness with which 
the earth rotates on its axis, seems to fade. As egotism 
subsides we grow more conscious of the meagre founda- 
tion of our lives, of the true nature of the Authorities 
whom we try to please and by whom Tve wish to 
be loved — those who feed our lost selves with their 
admiration. 

For a dark play-girl in a night-club I have pined away, 
for a dead schoolboy, for a bright angel-vixen I have 
wept in vain. If this thoughtless woman were to die 
there would be nothing to live for, if this faithless girl 
forgot me there would be no one for whom to WTite. 
These two unseen and otherwise occupied figures 
compose the fragile arch of my being and constitute a 
Tribunal which they have long ceased to attend. 

Miserable Orpheus who, turning to lose his Euiydice, 
beholds her for the first time as well as the last 

‘The self-torments of melancholiacs, which are without 
doubt pleasurable, signify a gratification of sadistic 
tendencies and of hate, both of which relate to an object 
and in this way have both been turned round upon the 
self. In the end the sufferers usually succeed in taking 
revenge, by the circuitous path of self-punishment, on 
the original object who occasioned the injury and who 
is usually to be found in their near neighbourhood. No 
neurotic harbours thoughts of suicide which are not 
murderous impulses against others redirected upon 
himself.— FREUD. 

70 



TE PALINURE FETENS 


The cycle of the hours. *The Lars and Lemures moan 
with midnight plaint.’ i a.m.; Anger turns to Misery. 
2 a,m.; Misery to Panic. The low tide and nadir of 
hope about 2 a.in. to 4. Magical Euphoria wells from 
4 a.m. to 6 — the thalamic ‘All Clear’; Peace and Cer- 
tainty arrive through Despair, All morning the tide 
of confidence rolls in with high water of egotism 
from 2 p.m. to 3. (We are farthest then from the idea 
of death as in the nocturnal small hours we are nearest.) 
Momentary depression at sunset, though often at my best 
from 6 o’clock to 10. Then the bilges begin to empty. 

Thought can be made to take liberties by artificial 
stimulation of the brain. The cortex is a machine for 
thinking. It can be ‘rev\^ed up’, slowed down, choked, 
fed various types of fuel according to the ideas it is 
required to produce. When the mixture is too rich, as 
in the small hours, the engine pinks, whence the manic 
symptom, ‘Flight of Ideas’. 

Thus tea, coffee, alcohol stimulate. 

So do heights, wet days, south-west gal^, hotel 
bedrooms in Paris and windows overlooking harbours. 
Also snow, frost, the electric bell outside a cinema at 
night, sex-life and fever. 

Cigars, tisanes, long draughts of water and fruit- 
juice have a clearing, calming effect. They ‘rev’ down 
the motor and overcome stoppages. And so do sitting 
still, relaxing climates, luxury, constipation, music, 
sun-bathing, hang-overs, listening to fountains, waves 
and -waterfalls. 

A thorough knowledge of opium, benzedrine, phc«- 
phonis and other drugs should make it possible for 
us to feed the brain the right mixture according to the 
effect desired; whether we contemplate a work of the 
imagination (putting ideas into our heads) or of the 
intellect (analysis, reasoning, memojy). 


71 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

When we decide to write, we should first consider 
the ingredients involved. Proportions of heart and head, 
of judgement and imagination. ‘A peach of an essay’, 
‘a melon of a poem’, *a quince of a book’, — ^we must 
let ourselves be impregnated by an archetypal form. 
Then -we should treat the personality with the right 
mixture till the glaze (style) is suitable, — ‘for my 
philosophical novel with a milligramme of nostalgia, 

I am taking ephedrine twice a week, opium once — 
with a little mescaline to loosen up my imagery and a 
massage on the nape of the neck to stimulate the thalamus 
after the monthly orgy. I am writing two-thirds standing 
up in the early morning, one-third in the afternoon 
lying down. My supervisor is a Jungian.’ 

Last Words on Opium-Reading 

‘L’opium est la seule substance v6getale qui nous 
communique I’^tat vegetal. Par lui nous avons ime idee 
de cette autre vitesse des plaates.’ 

‘L’opium apprivoise adoucira le mal des villes.* — 
COCTEAU 

‘Here were the hopes which blossom in the paths of 
life reconciled with the peace which is in the grave.’ — 
DE QUINCEY 

Others merely live; I vegetate. 

O sacred solitary empty mornings, tranquil meditation — 
fruit of book-case and clock-tick, of note-book and ann- 
chair; golden and rewarding silence, influence of sim- 
dappled plane-trees, far-off noises of birds and horses, 
possession beyond price of a few cubic feet of air and 
an hour of leisure! This vacuum of peace is the state 
7 ^ 



TE PALINURE PETENS 


from which art should proceed, for art is made by the 
alone for the alone, and now this cerulean atmosphere, 
which we should all be able to take for granted, has 
become an unattainable end. 

The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxica- 
tion : that is why so many bad artists are unable to give 
it up. 

■\\Tiat fathers would I like to vindicate ? Who, on reading 
Palinurus in the Asphodel Club, will say, ‘ I told you so’ ? 
Aristippus, Horace, Tibullus, Montaigne, Saint Flau- 
bert and Sainte-Beuve. But Pascal ? He frightens me, — 
and Chamfort? I don’t think so. 

I have much more in common with Chamfort than 
with Pascal; sometimes I feel that I was Chamfort, for 
there is nothing of his that I might not, with luck, have 
written, yet it is by reading the thoughts of Pascal, (which 
I never could have written,) that I change and grow. 
Literary charm, arising out of the desire to please, 
excludes those flights of intellectual power which are 
more rewarding than pleasure. 

The Predicament of Chamfort, 1741-94 

His mother was a ‘dame de comp^nie’, his father 
unknown, and he was christened merely ‘Nicolas’. 
Mother and son came from Auvergne to Paris where 
Nicolas was a brilliant schoolboy. After dallying with 
the Church, he plunged into the world of letters. A 
love-child, Chamfort was swept to success by the favours 
of women, a success which exhausted him physically 
and led to serious disorders; however, he obtained 
a weU-paid sinecure, a literary prize, and a stage triumph 
through his wit, his gallantry, and the love of his jBriends, 
until at forty he retired to Boileau’s old home at Auteuil; 
there he fell in love with a ‘dame de compagnie^ to the 

73 



TE PALINURE PETENS 


muted his passionate love for his mother into a general 
desire for affection which he concentrated at last on 
the elderly lady-in-waiting who resembled her. With 
this need for love went that equally violent feeling, 
so familiar to bastards, of a grievance against society. 
The w^armth of his affections combined with his sense 
of injustice and his clear mind to propel him to the crest 
of the Revolution, but he was one of those observers 
who cannot blind themselves to the defects of men who 
logically carry out an ideal in action. Though he himself 
believed in their cause, he was a philosopher without 
hope and without pity.^ Physically Chamfort was tall 
and handsome, an Adonis in youth, pale and exhausted 
in later life; he was a man who lived in spurts, and who 
seemed kept alive by the fire of his intelligence. Mirabeau 
called him ‘noble et digne’ and admired his ‘tete 
61ectrique\ Chateaubriand praised his cold blue eye. 
His predicament is one with which we are all familiar 
and there is every danger that it will soon become only 
too common; that of the revolutionary whose manners 
and way of life are attached to the old regime, whose 
ideals and loyalties belong to the new, and who, by a 
kind of courageous exhibitionism, is impelled to tell 
the truth about both, and to expect from the commissars 
of King Stork the applause for his sallies which they 
received from the courtiers of King Log. Most lovable 
of Chamfort’s sayings which, remarkable though they 
be for splenetic violence, are apt to grow irritating 
through an excess of point, a somewhat vulgar urbanity, 
is his final outburst, just after he had attempted his 
life. He is speaking to a friend in his usual quiet tone 

^*A11 literature might be ransacked in vain for a more 
repulsive saying than this (of Chamfort) : ** A man must swallow 
a toad every morning if he wishes to be sure of finding nothing 
still more disgusting before the day is over”.* — ^ mobley: 
Studies of Literature, p. 95. 


75 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

of familiar irony: ‘Que voulez-vons ? Voila ce que c’est 
qne d’etre maladroit de la main: on ne renssit a rien, pas 
meme a se tuer/ He began to explain how, instead of 
blowing out his brains, he had punctured his eye and the 
lower part of his forehead, then, instead of cutting his 
throat, he had gashed his neck and even hacked his chest 
without succeeding in stabbing his heart. ^Enfin,’ he 
concludes, ‘je me suis souvenu de Seneque, et, en 
rhonneur de Seneque, j’ai voulu m’ouvrir les veines ; mais 
il etait riche, lui; il avait tout a souhait, un bain bien 
chaud, enfin toutes ses aises ; moi, je suis un pauvre diable, 
je n*ai rien de tout cela. Je me suis fait un mal horrible, 
et me voila encore; mais j*ai la balle dans la tete, c’est 
la le principal. Un peu plus tot, un peu plus tard, voilk 
tout/ 


Wisdom of Chamfort ii 

‘ C"est un grand malheur de perdre, par notre caractere, 
les droits que nos talents nous donnent sur la societe/ 

* Il y a une certaine energie ardente, mere ou compagne 
necessaire de telle espece de talents, laquelle pour 
Tordinaire condamne ceux qui les possedent au malheur* 
C’est xine kpret6 d6vorante dont ils ne sent pas maitres et 
qui les rend tr^-odieux.’ 

*En renon^ant au monde et a la fortune, j’ai trouv6 le 
bonheur, le calme, la sante, meme la rich^e; et, en 
d6pit du proverbe, je m’apergois que “qui quitte la 
partie la gagne”.’ 

*Lfa vie contemplative est souvent miserable* Il faut agir 
davantage, penser moins, et ne pas se regarder vivre.’ 

*11 faut recommencer la societe humaine.’ 



TE PALINURE PETENS 


‘Les fieaux physiques et las calami tes de la nature 
humaine ont rendu la societe necessaire. La societe a 
ajoute aux malheurs de la nature. Les inconvenients 
de la societe ont amene la necessite du gouvemement, 
et le gouvemement ajoute aux malheurs de la societe. 
Voila rhistoire de la nature humaine.’ 

*Les pauvres sont les n^res de TEurope.’ 

‘Quand un homme et une femme ont Tun pour T autre 
une passion violente, il me semble toujours que ... les 
deux amants sont Tim ^ Tautre de par la nature^ qu’ils 
s’appartiennent de droit diving 

* Les pretentions sont une source de peines, et Tepoque 
du bonheur de la vie commence au moment oil eUes 
finissent.* 

*La pens^e console de tout.’ 

When I turn to see what Sainte-Beuve thinks of Chamfort, 
how the old love will greet the new, I find him some- 
what severe, the Superego judging the Ego. One would 
have expected him to feel more sympathy for a man so 
melancholy and disillusioned, one to whom, like him- 
self, people were ‘as those insects whose transparent 
tissue lets xis see the veins and all the different shades 
of the blood’; instead he is over-critical, and a little 
alarmed by him. He a dmit s that Chamfort’s aphor- 
isms are like ‘des fleches acerees qui arrivent brusque- 
ment et siffient encore’, but he reapproaches him with 
being a bachelor and therefore a recluse on whom 
Nature took her revenge. With equivocal serenity this 
other bachelor, the dubious monk of letters of the Rue 
de Montparnasse, finds fault with Chamfort for two of 

77 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

his maYims — *Je ne veux point me marier, dans la 
crainte d’ avoir im fils qui me ressemble’, and ‘ Quiconque 
n’est pas misanthrope a qnarante ans n’a jamais 3im6 
les hommes’. 

Unwillingly one has to admit the justice of Sainte- 
Beuve’s profound, stem, yet not imsympathetic analysis. 
Compared to him, Chamfort is a Byronic adolescent. 

‘ J’ai du Tacite dans la tete et du TibuUe dans le cceur,’ 
writes Chamfort. *Ni le TibuUe ni le Tacite,’ cracks 
Sainte-Beuve, ‘n’ont pu en sortir pour la posterite,’ 
\Vhat makes Sainte-Beuve superior ? He detected 
Chamfort’s tragedy: that he was a moralist whose 
credentials have never quite been accepted, that there 
was too much egotism in his judgement (which reflects 
the guilty self-hatred of those who know that they are 
neglecting their talent through indolence and hedon- 
ism). Chamfort detested humanity, but, unlike Sainte- 
Beuve, he could find no compensation in the love of 
nature. Chamfort was a classical pagan, Sainte-Beuve 
a double-minded critic who had passed through the 
mystical experience and the Romantic Movement to 
a scepticism infinitely enriched by both. 

Another view: T believe only in French culture, and I 
regard everything else in Europe which calls itself 
culture as a misunderstanding. . . . When one reads 
Montaigne, La Rochefoucauld, Vauvenaigues and 
Chamfort, one is nearer to antiquity than with any group 
of authors in any other nation.’ — ^Nietzsche 

And with Baudelaire, Flaubert, Sainte-Beuve, nearer 
to ourselves. 

Those who are consumed with curiosity about other 
people but who do not love them should write maxims, 
for no one can become a novelist unless he love his 



TE PALINURE PETENS 


fellow-men. Being myself contaminated by oriental 
philosophy, I cannot take people seriously (Sabba 
dukkhal ‘In those countries human life is but a weed.*) 
They ail seem replaceable except for the few who carry 
away sections of ourselves which cannot be replaced. 
Once we believe that the ego is like a cell which by 
over-assertion of itself causes cancer, the cancer of 
developing at the expense of society or at the expense 
of the seif’s natural harmony with the order of things, 
a harmony which it drowns by its own din, then w^e can 
only dislike the pushing, confident extroverts who, with 
their petty ambitions, form the backbone of fiction. 
If we have no appetite for the idiosyncrasies of minor 
personalities, then we must fight shy of the novel which 
will end by seeming as grotesque to us as the portrait 
of an alderman to a Tibetan Lama. 

When the bells justle in the tower 

The hollow night amid, 

Then on my tongue the taste is sour 

Of all I ever did.^ 

Vanished symptoms of health: early rising, early shaving, 
briskness in lavatory and bath, alacrity in crossing the 
street, care for personal appearance, horror of possessions, 
indifference to the newspaper, kindness to strangers, 
Folie des Maures, 

August 7th: the first autumn day. For once I have 
lived in the present! Walked to the book-shop at closing 
time. Raining. A girl tried to get into the shop but the 
doors were bolted. Went out and followed her past 
the Zwemmer Gallery and through the streets towards 
St. Giles’, only to lose her by the Cambridge Theatre, 
cursing the upbringing which has left me after all these 
^ Stanza dreamt by Professor Housman. 


79 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

years unable to address a stranger. Much disturbed by 
the incident, for this girl, with her high forehead, 
pointed nose, full lips and fine eyes, her dark h^i r and 
her unhappy and sullen expression, personified both 
intelligence and beauty in distress. She was bare-legged 
and wore sandals, a green corduroy suit under a linen 
coat. With a feeling of intolerable frustration I watched 
her out of sight: ‘O toi que j’eusse aimee’. 

From my violent reaction to this encounter I was able 
to learn a little more about the nature of my emotions. 

I. To fall in love at first sight there has to be what 
Sainte-Beuve called ‘ le myst^e\ In my case the mystery 
must take the form of a rejection of the industiii 
system and of the twentieth century. It is an aloofoess, 
a suggestion of the primitive that I crave. Hence the 
appeal of sandals, which alone permit human beings 
to hold themselves naturally. This air of aloofness is 
incompatible with happiness since it springs from a 
feeling of isolation, a sense of rebellion and hostility 
towards society which cannot in these days make for 
contentment. Indeed, I think that women, when they 
achieve domestic happiness at the price of independence, 
forfeit most of their appeal. 

il. This primitive and untamed expression is not 
enough; it must be illuminated by an interest in the 
arts, especially in modem painting and surrealism. 
The gipsy-look must correspond to the chaos of our 
time, to the spiritual wilderness of modem art. This 
taste is shared, I believe, by others who have made 
their peace with society. We are captivated by the 
feminine shadow of the self we might have been; in 
my case by that coimteipart of the romantic writer who 
steuid have had the course to reject society and to accept 
poverty for the sake of the development of his true 
8o 



TE PALINURE PETENS 


personality. Now when I see such beings I hope that 
I can somehow be freed from my shortcomings by 
union with them. Hence the recurrent longing to forsake 
external reality for a dream and to plunge into a ritual 
flight. 

Some fall in love with w^omen w’ho are rich, aristo* 
cratic or stupid. I am attracted by those who mysteriously 
hold out a promise of the integrity which I have lost; 
unsubdued daughters of Isis, beautiful as night, 
tumultuous as the moon-stirred Atlantic.^ 

HI. Recognition takes place at the turn of the year 
and must be followed at once by the ritual flight and 
consummation in a cave. 

To banish the rainy evening, the dripping plane-trees, 
the depression of Fitzroy Square and Charlotte Street 
and the afternoon’s disappointment, I asked some 
friends round to drink a bottle of rum. Since old friends 
are almost indistinguishable from enemies, we talked 
about each other’s vices. One said the vice of Palinurus 
was inconstancy. But is it not rather constancy? Fidelity 
to the experience of abandoning all the world for a new 
face with an invitation to ecstasy? Or is that but one 
more autunm ruse for self-destruction? 

Shall I believe the Syren South again 

And, oft-betray’d, not know the Monster Main? 

^ Isis was represented as the moon rising from the sea; *ista 
luce feminea coUustrans cuncta moenia et udis ignibus nutriens 
laeta seznina.’ — ^apuleius: Met. xi. [With her feminine light 
sharply bringing out the city walls, and with her damp fires 
nourishing the happy seed.] 


G 


8i 



PART III 


LA CLE DES CHANTS 


Illumination: ‘La melancolie elle-m&ne n’est 
qu’un souvenir qui s’ignore.’ — Flaubert 

The Sun warms out old memories, the Mist exhumes 
others, as they intensify the fragrance of trees or the 
smell of ferns. 

First faint impression of urban autumn. There are 
memories which are brought into play by certain sounds, 
smells or changes in temperature; like those tunes 
which recur in the mind at a given time of year. With 
the sweeping up of the dead leaves in the square, the 
first misty morning, the first yellowing of the planes, 
I remember and the old excitement of looking 
for autumn lodgings in an hotel Streets round the Rue 
de I’Universite, Rue Jacob, Rue de Bourgogne and Rue 
de Beaune, with their hotel signs and hall-wa]^ where 
the concierge sits walled in fay steamer trunks, A stu% 
salon full of novels by Edith Wharton, the purple 
wall-paper which we will grow to hate as we lie in bed 
widi grippe, the chintz screen roxmd the bidet, the tall 
grey panelling with a cupboard four inches deep 

Hotel de I’Universite for American college girls, Hdtel 
de Londres with a chestnut tree in the courtyard, 
Hotel Jacob for wasting much time; Hdtel de Savoie, 
Hdtel Delambre, Hotel de la Lonisiane; central-heated 
82 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 


Stations of the Cross: names that stir the lees within me. 

For an angora pullover, for a red scarf, for a beret and 
some brown shoes I am bleeding to death; my heart is 
dry as a kidney. 

Peeling off the kilometres to the tune of ‘Blue Skies’, 
sizzling down the long black liquid reaches of Nationale 
Sept, the plane trees going sha-sha-sha through the 
open window, the windscreen yellowing with crushed 
midges, she with the Michelin beside me, a handker- 
chief binding her hair . . - 

‘L^e coeur a ses raisons’, — ^and so have rheumatism 
and ’flu. The sole of the foot, the nape of the neck still 
recollect the embrace of the Mediterranean — pale 
water streaked with sapphirine sea-shadow, trans- 
lucent under the Esterel. 

Paris afternoons; the quiet of hotel bedroom and of 
empty lounge; the bed covered with clothes and maga- 
zines, the Chicago Tribune, the CrapouiUot, the Senuwte 
d Paris i programmes of the Pagoda Cinema, The 
Ursulines, Studio Vingt-huit; faraway cries of ‘voici 
VIntrari* answered by the honking of horns . . . 

Early morning on the Mediterranean : bright air resinoiis 
with Aleppo pine, water spraying over the gleaming 
tarmac of the Route Nationale and darkly refiecting 
the spring-summer green of the planes; swifts wheeling 
round the oleander, waiters unpiling the wicker chairs 
and scrubbing the caf^ tab!^; armfuls of carnations 
on the flower-stall, pyramids of lemon and aubergine, 
ra^asses on the fishmonger’s slab goggling among the 
wine-dark urchins; smell of brioches from the bakers, 
sound of reed curtains jingling in the barber’s shop, 
clang of the tin kiosk opening for Le Petit Var. Our 
rope-soles -w ar m up on the cobbles by the harlxsiir 

^3 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

where the Jean d*Agreve prepares for a trip to the 
Islands and the Annamese boy scrubs her brass. Now 
cooks from many yachts step ashore with their market- 
baskets, one-eyed cats scrounge among the fish-heads, 
while the hot sun refracts the dancing sea-glitter on 
the cafe awning, until the sea becomes a green gin-fizz 
of stillness in whose depth a quiver of sprats charges 
and counter-charges in the pleasure of fishes. 

Dead leaves, coffee grounds, grenadine, tabac Maryland, 
mental expectation, — ^perfumes of the Nord-Sud; 
autumn arrival at Pigalle or the sortie from Notre- 
Dame-des-Champs into the lights of Montparnasse 
where the chestnuts, glowing red by the Metro entrance, 
live in a warmer climate than their fellows . . . 

Our memories are card-indexes consulted and then 
returned in disorder by authorities whom we do not 
controL 

Back-streets of Cannes; tuberoses in the window, 
the book-shop over the railway bridge which we comb 
for memoirs and detective stories while the cushions 
of the car deflate in the afternoon sun. Petit Marseillais. 
Eclaireur de Nice: headlines about the Spanish war 
soaked in sun-bathing oil, tom maps, the wet bathing- 
dress wrapped in a towel, — and now we bring home 
memoirs, detective stories, tuberoses, round the danger- 
ous comer of the Rue d’ Antibes and along the road by 
the milky evening sea. 

The boredom of Sunday afternoon, which drove de 
Quincey to drink laudanum, also gave birth to surrealism: 
hours propitious for making bombs. 

August 15th: Wet Sunday recalling many others. 
^Fant6mes de Trouville^, ‘Sea-scape with ftieze of girls,^ 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 


Beaches of the West: Houlgate, Royan, Saint-Jean- 
de-Luz. A red digue, colour of porphyry. In the shops 
hang buckets, toy yachts, shrimping-nets and string- 
bags enclosing rubber balls with a dull bloom, of the 
same porphyry colour. Children in the shop are choosing 
their sandals and gym-shoes, girls are walking arm-in- 
arm along the promenade; the west wind from the sea 
spatters the jetty; old bills of casino galas wdth their 
faded ‘Attractions’ roll flapping among the tamarisks. 
Prowling from the Marquise de Sevigne tea room to 
the Potiniere bar, dark and smelling of gin, we lie in 
wait for one more glimpse of the sea-side girls in their 
impregnable adolescence — ^before the Atlantic sun 
fades angrily over enormous sands, coloured like the 
under-belly of soles. 

Saint- Jean-de-Luz. Buying a melon in the morning 
market and eating it for breakfast in a cafe on the 
Bidassoa; pursuing a mackintosh, a beret and a strand 
of wet curls roimd the sea-w'all in the rain. Maize and 
pimento, light-footed Basques with round lean faces 
dancing Fandango and Arin-Arin, playing pelota against 
the church wail while a huge green sunset agonizes 
through plate-glass windows. Angoisse des digues. . . . 

Hemingway is great in that alone of living writers he 
has saturated his work with the memory of physical 
pleasure, with sunshine and salt water, with food, wine 
and making love and the remorse which is the shadow 
of that sxm, 

August 30th: Morning tears return; spirits at their 
lowest ebb. Approaching forty, sense of total failure: 
not a writer but a ham actor whose performance is 
dotted with egotism; dust and ash^; ‘brilliant’, — 
that is, not worth doing. Never will I make that extra 
effort to live according to reality which alone makes 

85 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

good writing possible: hence the manic-depressiveness 
of my style, — which is either bright, cruel and super- 
ficial; or pessimistic; moth-eaten with self-pity. 

Everything I have written seems to date except the 
last lines I set down. These appear quite different, 
absolute exceptions to the law — ^and yet what dates in 
them does not vary but remains the same — kind of 
auto-intoxication which is brought out by the act of 
writing. 

Approaching forty, I am about to heave my carcass 
of vanity, boredom, guilt and remorse into another 
decade. 


Lusisti satis, edisti satis, atque bibisti 
Tempus abire tibi est.^ 

Both my happiness and unhappiness I owe to the love 
of pleasure; of sex, travel, reading, conversation 
(hearing oneself talk), food, drink, cigars and lying in 
warm water. 

Reality is what remains when these pleasures, together 
with hope for the future, regret for the past, vanity 
of the present, and all that composes the aroma of the 
self are pumped out of the air-bubble in which I shelter. 

When we have ceased to love the stench of the human 
a n i m al, either in others or in ourselves, then are we 
condemned to misery, and clear thinking can begin. 
‘La seule reality, c’est le souci (sorge) dans toute Techelle 
des 6tres. Pour Fhomme perdu dans le monde et ses 
divertissements, ce souci une peur breve et fuyante. 
Mais que cette peur prenne conscience d’elle-meme et 
elle devient Pangoisse (angst), dimat perpetuel de 
Thomme lucide “dans lequel Fexistence se retrouve.”’ 
— ^HEIDEGGER 

^ ‘You have played enough, you have eaten and drunk 
enough. It*s time you went home.’ — ^HORACE 
86 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 


O, qu’elle est belle Tetoile de mer! The starfish sprawling 
on an Atlantic beach streaked with shallow pools; 
ridges of mackerel sand taut under the bare foot; the 
sun on the spilt water-beads which mark the tide by 
streamers of bladder-wrack and melting jelly-fish; ail 
these will return and the leisure to enjoy them, to paddle 
under a razor-shell sky among rocks where the trans- 
parent prawn leans up against the weed like an old man 
reading in a public library, feathering with his legs 
and feelers and rocketing backwards with a flick of 
the tail. And there will be time to observe the blenny 
where it lies half out of the water, the hermit-crab 
and anemone, the pin-pointed urchin, the sea-slug on 
her green sea-salad, the swaying zoster. 

O litus vita mihi dulcius, O mare! felix 

cui licet ad terras ire subinde measl^ 

Midnight harbours of France, O rain-swept lights on 
the quay! 

Approaching forty, a singular dream in which I almost 
grasped the meaning and understood the nature of 
what it is that wastes in wasted time. 

Present pleasure kills time, it is like sleep, a harmless 
anaesthetic: harmless when once we have recognized 
that our life is so painful as to need what otherwise 
would distil both guilt and remorse. If, however, we 
understand that the love of pleasure can be increased 
or decreased according to need, then as the pleasure 
fades into the past it will leave behind only a sense of 
nostalgia and this nostalgia can be converted into art, 
and, once so converted, all trace of guilt is washed away. 

Art is memory: memory is re-enacted desire. 

^ ‘ O sea shore sweeter to me than life, O sea, happy am I who 
may ccwne at last to go to my own lands,*^ — PETRONIUS 

87 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

The body remembers pleasure past and on being made 
aware of it, floods the mind with sw^eetness. Thus the 
smell of sun-warmed pine-needles and the bloom on 
ripe whortle-berries reopen the file marked Kitzbiihel 
and bring back the lake with its muddy water, raft 
conversations and pink water-lilies; the drive over the 
white Alpine road through the black fir-wood or the 
walk over the meadow where runnels of water sing in 
wooden troughs beside the chalets. Remembering all 
this communicates several varieties of pleasure; those 
which, like lying in a thick peat-bath on a rainy evening, 
are purely sensual, which are social like playing bridge 
in the afternoon or intellectual like talking to Pierre; 
pleasures of vanity like flirting in the Tiefenbrunner 
or bu3fing local jackets and lederkosen , — and ever present, 
as the bald peak of the Kitzbiihlerhom, the unpunished 
delights of health; of mountain air, good food and 
natural living. The Wooden Age, where bed and wall 
and door and house are made of pine-logs, where night 
is always cold, morning loud with rivers and cow-bells 
and existence balsam-sharp. 

Today my deepest wish is to go to sleep for six months, 
if not for ever; it is an admission that life has become 
almost unendurable and that I must look to pleasure 
as a waking substitute for sleep. We caimot sleep twenty- 
four hours a day but we can at least make sleep and 
pleasure alternate, if once we will admit that, like deep 
narcotic treatment for nervous breakdown, they are 
remedies for the very sick. Reality, union with reality, 
is the true state of the soul when confident and healthy. 
Thus when Pope wrote: 

So slow the unprofitable Moments roll 

That lock up all the Punctions of my soul ; 

That keep me from Myself; 

$8 



LA CLE DBS CHANTS 


he stated a profound truth. Unreality is what keeps us 
from ourselves and most pleasure is unreal. 

In that dream of approaching forty I felt that I was about 
to die and became aware that I was no longer myself, 
but a creature inhabited entirely by parasites, a cater- 
pillar infested by grubs of the ichneumon fly. Gin, 
whisky, sloth, fear, guilt, tobacco, had been appointed 
my inquilines; alcohol sloshed about within, while 
tendrils of melon and vine spread out from ear and nostril, 
^ly mind was a worn gramophone record, my true self 
was such a shadow as to seem non-existent and all this 
had taken place in the last three years. 

Approaching forty. A glimpse of wisdom. ‘Live in the 
present, Palinums; you are too unbalanced to brood 
upon the past. One day you will remember nothing 
but its essence; now you must expel it from your mind.’ 

The tw-elvemonth and a day being up, 

The dead began to speak: 

‘ Oh who sits weeping on my grave. 

And will not let me sleep?’ — 

‘’Tis I, my love, sits on your grave, 

And will not let you sleep ; 

For I crave one kiss of your clay-cold lips. 

And that is all I seek.’ — 

‘You crave one kiss of my clay-cold lips ; 

But my breath smells earthy strong; 

If you have one kiss of my clay-cold lips, 

Your time will not be long. 

‘’Tis down in yonder garden green. 

Love, where we used to walk. 

The finest flower that ere was seen 
Is wither’d to a stalk. 


89 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

‘The stalk is wither’d dry, my love 
So will our hearts decay; 

So make yourself content, my love, 

Till God calls you away.’^ 

Paris afternoons: The book-stall on the quai with old 
prints that nobody wants, naughty novels corseted 
in cellophane; the animal shop on the Quai de Gesvres; 
ferrets, squirming and clucking in the straw, with red 
eyes and little ya'^^ms which reveal their fine white teeth; 
marmosets chattering over cheir stump of rotten banana, 
moulting parrots; the mysterious ailing nocturnal 
creature that I was always tempted to buy — ‘c’est un 
binturong, monsieur’ — and then the walk back over 
the bridge; poplar leaves eddying in the yellow river; 
misty black-and-grey streets of the Left Bank; discreet 
shops full of bibelots^ bad modem paintings, Empire 
clocks. 

Disorder of the hotel bedroom; books, drawings, 
clothes and red plush; shadows lengthening, the desir- 
able afternoon sleep with its bewildering nightmare- 
starts and awakenings, its flash-backs to the past. Then 
the purple neon sign shining in at the window and the 
concierge on the telephone: ‘II y a quelqu’un en has 
qui vous demande’. ‘Voulez-vous lui dire de monter.’ 

In youth the animal world obsessed me; I saw life 
through creatures which were in a state of grace, crea- 
tures without remorse, without duties, without a past 
or a future, owning nothing but the intense present 
and their eternal rh3rthm of hunger, sleep and play. 
The ring-tailed lemurs with their reverence for the sun, 
their leaps through the air and their howls of loneliness, 
were dark Immortals of a primitive race; the ferrets 
with their passionate blood-thirst and their tunnelling 
^ Os^ord Book of Ballads: *The Unquiet Grave*. 





LA CLE DES CHANTS 


mania; the beautiful mute genette, the pine-marten, 
the racoons, the pitiful coati, the dying ocelot, the slow 
loris, — even the animals which I never owned, the beaver, 
otter, palm-civet and linsang, — ^these bright-fanged, 
saffron-throated aristocrats held the secret of life for 
me; they were clues to an existence without thought, 
guilt or ugliness wherein aU was grace, appetite and 
immediate sensation: Impressionist materpieces which 
Nature flung upon the canvas of a day. 

Now I care only for the Vegetable world; my day- 
dreams are no longer of otter-pool and sunny lemurar- 
ium, but of slobbering melon, downy quince and dew- 
dusted nectarine, I feel fruit trees to be an even stranger 
form of life and therefore more rewarding. Nothing is 
so alien, so unexpected in a tree as its fruit and yet by 
the fruit it is known; leaves, height and blossom are 
sacrificed; so by thinking, reading and maintaining 
an inner calm we too mature and ripen until the life 
which once flowered in such careless profusion is 
concentrated into husks, husks that, like pomegranates 
or the tomato on our window-sill, continue to mellow 
long after the leaf has fallen and the plant that bore 
them rotted to the ground. 

* Good is the passive that obeys reason. Evil is the active 
springing from energy.’ — ^blake. It is more important, 
in fact, to be good than to do good because being, 
rather than doing, is the state which keeps us in tune 
with the order of things. Hence Pascal’s reflection that all 
the evil of the world comes from men not being able to 
sit quietly in a room. Good is the retention of energy; 
evil a waste of it, energy which is taken away from grow^ 
Like water, we are truest to our nature in repose. 

‘Tao is in the emptiness. Emptiness is the fast of the 
mind.’ — chuang-tzu 


91 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 


Masterplat 
Three thoughts from Eliot: 

‘Someone said; “The dead writers are remote from us 
because we knozo so much more than they did.” Pre- 
cisely, and they are that which we know.^ 

‘What is to be insisted upon is that the poet must 
develop or procure the consciousness of the past and 
that he should continue to develop this consciousness 
throughout his career. What happens is a continual 
surrender of himself as he is at the moment to some- 
thing which is more valuable. The progress of an artist 
is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of 
personality.’ 

‘The more perfect the artist, the more completely 
separate in him will be the man who sufiem and the 
mind which creates.’ 

The supreme liberty is liberty from the body, the last 
freedom is freedom from time; the true work of art 
the one which the seventh wave of genius throws far 
up the beach where the under-tow of time caimot 
drag it back. When all motives that lead artists 
to create have fallen away, and the satisfactions of 
vanity and the play-instinct been exhausted, there 
remains the desire to construct that which has its own 
order, as a protest against the chaos to which ail else 
appears condemned. While thought exists, words are 
alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but 
into living. 

Works of art which survive must all be indebted to tiie 
spirit of their ^e. Thus though Virgil and Horace 
copied Greek models, they imitated them at a time 

9a 



LA CLE DBS CHANTS 


when the flowering of Roman civilization demanded 
just such a refinement, a taking over of the trusteeship 
of the past by the swelling Latin genius. In that sense 
every writer refashions the literature of the past and 
produces his tiny commentary, nothing is ever quite 
new; but there comes a moment when a whole culture 
ripens and prepares to make its own version of the 
great art of its predecessors. 

The masterpieces appropriate to our time are in the 
style of the early Chirico, the later Rouault and Picasso’s 
Guernica; sombre, munificent yet personal statements 
of our tragedy; work of strong and noble architecture 
austerely coloured by loneliness and despair. Flaubert 
spoke true: to succeed a great artist must have both 
character and fanaticism and few in this coimtry are 
willing to pay the price. Our writers have either no 
personality and therefore no style or a false personality 
and therefore a bad style; they mistake prejudice for 
energy and accept the sensation of material well-being 
as a system of thought. 

The English language is like a broad river on whose 
bank a few patient anglers are sitting, while, higher up, 
the stream is being polluted by a string of refuse-barges 
tipping out their muck. The English language has, 
in fact, so contracted to our own littleness that it is no 
longer possible to make a good book out of words alone. 
A writer must concentrate on his vocabulary but must 
also depend on the order, the timing and spacing of 
his words, and try to arrange them in a form which is 
seemingly artl^s, yet perfectly proportioned. He must 
let a hiatus suggest that which die language will no longer 
accomplish. Words today are like the shells and rope of 
seaweed which a child brings home glistening from tht 
beadi and which in an hour have lost their lustre. 


93 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

It is right proportion combined with simplicity of 
expression and seriousness of thought that enables a 
book to stand the test of time. To construct from the 
mind and to colour with the imagination a work which 
the judgement of unborn arbiters will consider perfect 
is the one immortality of which we can be sure. When 
we read the books of a favourite writer together with 
all that has been written about him, then his personality 
will take shape and leave his work to materialize through 
our own. The page will liberate its author; he will rise 
from the dead and become our friend. So is it with 
Horace, Montaigne, Sainte-Beuve, with Flaubert and 
Henry James: they survive in us, as we increase through 
them. 

But these intimacies can be dangerous. For there are 
writers who lay siege to our personality, then storm 
the feeble garrison and occupy the citadel. Thus 
Flaubert, who appears at first our ally becomes, as we 
venture further into his work, the terrible Christos 
Pantocrator of our age with Sainte-Beuve his John 
the Baptist and George Sand his Magdalene. We relive 
his Passion with him, his Temptation, his Agony at 
Croisset, his Betrayal and Crucifixion by the Bourgeois; 
his letters become the Sermon on the Mount — ‘Tout 
est la; Pamour de TAit’ — and so we falter and faint 
and deny him thrice, in the Press, in the Ministry or 
on the Air, — ^imtil he rises before us in cold Noonan 
wrath to pronounce ‘Justice not mercy!’ ‘Un homme 
qui s’est institue artiste n’a plus le droit de vivre comma 
ies autres.’ 

Fhmbert m the Masterpiece 

‘Je me demande si un livre, ind6pendamment de ce 
qu’il dit, ne pent pas produire le meme effet? (as the 
base of the Parthenon). Dans la precision des assem- 
la raret^ des eluents, le poli de la surface, 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 


rhannonie de Tensenible, n’y a-t-il pas une vertu 
intrinseque, ime espece de force divine, quelque chose 
d’etemel comme nn principe? (Je park en platonicien.) 
Ainsi pourquoi y a-t-il un rapport necessaire entre le 
mot juste et le mot musical? Pourquoi arrive-t-on 
toujours a faire un vers quand on resserre trop sa pens^ ? 
La loi des nombres gouveme done les sentiments et 
les images, et ce qui parait etre reJrterieur est tout 
bonnement le dedans?’ 

September loth: Full autumn magnificence; the green 
and gold streamers of the plane-tree waving trans- 
parently against the high sunlit sky. Birthday resolution: 
From now on specialize; never again make any conces- 
sion to the ninety-nine parts of you which are like 
everybody else at the expense of the one which is unique. 
Never listen to the False Self talking, 

Le n^t d’avoir quarante ans. 

September 15th: Entree des coings. 

Pomifer autumnus fruges efiiiderit, et mox 
Bruma recurrit iners.^ 

Enemies of Angst 

Flight to the cotmtry: the morning awakening of a 
house, noise of women in a courtyard, the chickens, 
ducks, geese and dogs being let out; the parrot stropping 
its beak on the bars of the cage; the smell of bre^ast, 
the gardener bringing in tomatoes and lettuces; Sunday 
papers, taps running; and the drone of fighter-squadrons 
overhead. Lunch out of doors. 

^ Horace: Odes, Book iv: * Autumn, bringer of fruit, has 
poured out her riches, and soon sluggish winter returns.* 


95 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

The afternoon nap, so rich in disturbances of memory; 
the bath in the fading daylight with hot-water pipes 
rumbling and shrieks of children going to bed, wMe 
the cold elmy sunshine westers over liquid fields. The 
sharp bed-time sortie into the night air. 

It is only in the country that we can get to know a 
fellow-being or a book. 

The mill where I sometimes stay provides another cure 
for Angst; the red lane through the Spanish chestnut 
wood, the apple trees on the lawn, the bees in the roof, 
the geese on the pond, the black sxm-lit marsh mari golds, 
the wood-fire crackling in the low bedroom, the creak 
of the cellar- door and the recurrent monotonies of the 
silver-whispering weir, — ^what could be more womb- 
like or reassuring? Yet always the a nxi ous owner is 
flying from it as from the scene of a crime. 

Romantic surrealism and classical humanism, however 
antagonistic, are akin; they breed each other and the 
artist must contrive a synthesis. Blake and Pope or 
Flaubert and his mad ‘Garmon* are complementary. 
The classical humanist is the parent, the surrealist the 
rebellious adolescent. Both are mother-fixed ; only 
* Social Realism^ lies outside the family. 

Surrealist and humanist difiFer as to what proportion 
of ‘strangeness* (le meroeiUeux) is necessary as an ingre- 
dient of beauty and what proportion of violence is 
best suited to creative emotion. 

Surrealism, the last international movement in the 
arts, is now in its decadence. Why? Because it borrowed 
the Communist idea of a small iron-disciplined elite 
without the appeal to the masses by which such discipline 
tries to justify itself. An aesthetic movement with a 
revolutionary dynamism and no popular appeal should 
proceed quite otherwise than by public scandal, pub- 
licity stunt, noisy expulsion and excommunication. 

96 



LA CLE DBS CHANTS 


For twenty years political mass-movements have 
absorbed the mounting sap of humanity. Surrealism, 
like its rival, classical humanism, is too romantic and too 
anti-industrial for the times. Our world has no use for 
liberal father or rebellious anarchist son, Le mervezlleux, 
with the Sublime of the Humanists, belongs to the nine- 
teenth-century past. 

This is a pity, for as time goes on we see how Surreal- 
ism was revolutionary not only in the sense that all 
could take it home and practise there but as the last 
convulsion necessary to complete the French artistic- 
cycle, to tie the strands of classicism and romanticism, 
reason and imagination into a final knot, and so restore 
the clear head to the rebel heart. 

Classical and romantic: private language of a family 
quarrel, a dead dispute over the distribution of emphasis 
betw^een man and nature. 

Abstract art denies both man and nature and thrives 
on the machine age; Naturalism refuses man all place 
while in Social Realism he dominates the picture. 

Beware nevertheless of false dualities: classical and 
ro m antic, real and ideal, reason and instinct, mind and 
matter, male and female, — all should be merged into 
each other (as the Taoists merged their Yin and Yang 
into the Tao) and should be regarded as two aspects 
of one idea. Dualities which are defined at the 
moment (stoic and epicurean. Whig and Tory) become 
united by the historical process, and end by having 
more, not less, in common. In a hundred years Science 
and Ethics (power and love), the present day duality, 
may seem as dead as the iota controversy, together wdih 
good and evil, free will and determinism, even space 
and time. Ideas which have for long divided individuals 
will become meaningless in the light of the forces that 
will separate groups, 
n 


97 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Yet ridiculous as may seem the dualities in conflict 
at a given time, it does not follow that dualism is a 
worthless process. The river of truth is always splitting 
up into arms that reunite. Islanded between them the 
inhabitants argue for a lifetime as to which is the main- 
stream. 


Earth-loves of the Earth Bound: Ennoia 

Three or four people whom I have loved seem utterly 
set apart from all the rest; angelic, ageless creatures 
more alive than the living, embalmed perpetually in 
their all-devouring myth. 

lie de Gavrinis: Montague de la Margeride: Auberge de 
Peyrebeilhe. * Mar of murmury mermers in the mind . . 

Clumps of rushes, brackish water, marram-grass, sea- 
thisdes, flare des diines ^ — He de Gavrinis over the green 
and violet ocean of the Morbihan. The dinghy groxmds 
on white sand printed with the tails of lizards, die ancient 
lime avenue leads up co the lonely farm where a path 
winds among gorse and asphodel to the Presence of 
the Dead. There, in his Tumulus, lies the last Celtic 
prince, wrapped in his race’s age-long death-wish; his 
great vault-stone carved with indecipherable warnings; 
runes of serpents and oak-leaves, of wave-eddies and 
wind-patterns, fin^r-prints of giant hands, — power- 
less to save! And that night in Vannes, the cave-wedding 
— Stmmoque ululrmmt vertice Nympfus,^ She with sad 
grave gem-like beauty and happiness soon to be thrown 
away. 

heaving Bellac after crowing for two days the plains 
of the sandy Loire, we enter the Bocage Limousin, 

^ ‘The nymphs wailed hrom the top of the hiE.* (An air-raid 
waixdng.) 

98 



LA CLE DBS CHANTS 


traverse a country of tali tree-hedges blueing into the 
pale spring sky and reach the first hills, the Blond 
mountains, forest beginnings of the Chitaigneraie. 
A new strip of maps and the sun always wanner; 
mountain nights in stone buildings, melted snow in the 
running water, darker wine in the inns, deeper beds. 
Rivers tumbling through towns; rain-drenched chest- 
nuts green in the s^^dnging lights of Tulle; Mauriac, 
Sainte-Flour, Saint- Chely-d"Apcher; snow-driven moor- 
lands of the Margeride, pine-forests of Yelay and Vivar- 
ais; cloud-shadows over the Gerbier de Jonc. There on 
the edge of the tableland stands the haunted Aubetge de 
Peyrebeiihe (where once so few came out who went 
in).^ But now the low room with blackened ceiling has 
grown less dangerous to lovers than the almond-blossom 
airs of the warm Ardeche, than the limestone chasm 
leading down to civilization where the Furies are 
awaiting Ennoia and happiness is thrown away. 

‘Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form 
of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the 
point of highest reality.’ — c. s. lewis. 

Cowardice in living: without health and courage we 
cannot face the present or the germ of the future in 
the present and take refuge in evasion. Evasion through 
comfort, society, through acquisitiveness, through the 
book-bed-bath defence system, above all through the 
flight to the romantic womb of history, into primitive 
myth-making. The refusal to include the great mass- 
movements of the twentieth century in our art or our 
myth win drive us to take refuge in the past; in surrealism, 
magic, primitive religion or eighteenth-century woinier- 
lands. We fly to Mediterranean womb-po<±etB and 

^ The innkeeper and his coloured wife used to murder thrir 
guests. 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

dream-islands, into dead controversy and ancient 
hermetic bric-a-brac, like a child who sits hugging his 
toys and who screams with rage when told to put on 
his boots. 

Realities of our time. 

Histoiy constructed out of global blocks. 

The Decline of Europe. 

Anglo-American rivalry and imperialism. 

Russian Managerial imperialism. 

Chinese or Japanese imperialism. 

English National Suburbanism. 

The Great American Vacuum. 

Massacres and atrocities, poverty, famine. 

‘Well, which side are you on? The Com-Goddess 
or the Tractor? The Womb or the Bulldo2er? Christ, 
Freud, Buddha, Baudelaire, Bakunin, or Marx, Watson, 
Pavlov, Stalin, Shaw? Come clean, moody Palinurus, 
no synthesis this time and no Magic Circle either! We 
need men like you in the Group Age. Will you take 
your turn at the helm as you used to ? Remember ? 

Princeps gubemator densum Palinurus agebat 
Agmen 

or do you prefer to daydream in the lavatory, petit 
coin sombre of the Bourgeois Formalist, while a new 
worid is being bom ? 

How do you react to our slogan “Total Everybody 
Always “ ? Have you at last rmderstood that your miser- 
able failure as an individual is proof that you pursue a 
lost cause? Man invents God when he loses his Party 

^ * Ahead of all the Master Pilot steer’d,* 


SCO 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 


Card. He is neither angel, nor beast, nor as you with your 
in3rstique of sloth would make him even a vegetable, 
but a social unit, a cell, and as such will find fulfilment 
only through participation in the communal life of an 
organized group.’ 

Anrdaer: ‘In my beginning is my end.* As the acorn 
contains the oak or the folded kernel of the Spanish 
chestnut implies the great whorled bole and serrated 
leaf of the full-grown tree, so each human being possesses 
a form appropriate to him which time will educate and 
ripen. ‘Tout est dans la semence’: the acorns will 
not make a hedge nor the chestnuts an avenue; we are 
bom with certain shapes ahead of us, certain ideas to 
fulfil; to seek unity or bring out diversity; to attack 
tradition or perpetuate lost causes; to build the future 
or to exhume our spiritual ancestors, and derive hope 
and inspiration from them; to discover certain places, 
to love and lose certain faces or to develop an immediate 
antipathy to others. If I had been a tme product of 
the age your question could never have arisen. My role 
is not of the future but, like Eliot’s poet, “to live in 
what is not merely the present, but the present moment 
of the past.” I believe that a conscious affinity with 
Nature forms the shield of Perseus through which man 
can affront the Gorgon of his fate and that, in the 
termitaries of the future where humanity cements itself 
up from the light of the sun, this dragon-slaying mirror 
will rust and tarnish. So I have nothing to say to the 
masses or to the machines, to bosses or bureaucrats. 
States or statistics. Nations or Parties. I am but a link 
in the chain of individual heretics and failures, a wood- 
wind solo in the interminable symphony, drowned at 
once by the brass and percussion but necessary to the 
composer’s score. An interpreter between intellect and 
imagination, between reason and tfie physical world, 

lOI 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

I tend the graves — sapientum templa serena — of Horace 
and Tibullus, of P5rth2goras and Aristippus, of Mon- 
taigne and Lao-Tsu; I speak the language of animals 
and enjoy the confidence of the vegetable powers. 

And I answer a seven-fold ‘No’ to your question: 
A physiological no, because I am not a cell, but myself, 
A biological no, because a specialized mutation from the 
norm indicates the richness and vitality of the species. 
A sociological no, because those who lack the herd- 
instinct are generally in advance of the herd which is 
conservative, stupid, intolerant and bourgeois. A 
psychological no, because those who have been all their 
lives used to intellectual isolation are the ones best 
fitted to remain isolated; they grow adjusted to their 
mal-adjustment. A political no, for England will remain 
the smallest of the great powers and so must depend 
for her survival on qualitative standards. An assthetic no, 
because the practice of literature is still best carried out 
through the individual unit. An ethical no, because I do 
not ‘find fulfilment through participation in the com- 
mimal life of an organized group’, — ^that is t3rraimy, — 
but in the pursuit of art and knowledge and by con- 
munion with the Bourgeois Formalism of Nature. 
To sum up: I agree with Flaubert, ‘A mesure que 
rhumanite se perfectionne, Thomme se degrade.’ 

October. Quince days. lo Lemurial^ 

Departure of my tormentors. Philosophic calm, 
soaring Hope, manic ezaltation, mysterious freedom 
from An^t. Dare I suppose that a cure has been accom- 

^ Roman festival designed to propitiate the Lemures or 
wandering evil spirits of the dead. Once a year as on our AU 
Souls*^ Eve, they hungrily revisit their loved ones. Broad beans 

most st^gestive vegetable) were thrown to them as an appease- 
ment offering after which they were requested to leave. ^ Manes 
^te Patemil* Ovid. Fasti, Bk. v. 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 


plished, the bones of Palinurus buried and his ghost 
laid? For once it seems that the past has fallen away 
like the mantle of snow from a creaking fir-tree. 

As for the Dog, the Furies and their Snakes, 

The gloomy Caverns or the burning Lakes 
And all the vain infernal trumpery, 

They neither are, nor were, nor e’er can be. 

There is no hate without fear. Hate is crystallized fear, 
fear’s dividend, fear objecti'vdzed. We hate what we fear 
and so where hate is, fear will be lurking. Thus we hate 
what threatens our person, our liberty, our privacy, 
our income, our popularity, our vanity and our dreams 
and plans for ourselves. If we can isolate this element 
in what we hate we may be able to cease from hating. 
Analyse in this way the hatred of ideas or of the kind 
of people whom we have once loved and whose faces 
are preserved in Spirits of Anger. Hate is the conse- 
quence of fear; we fear something before we hate; 
the child who fears noises becomes the man who hates 
them. 

"Whatever you blame, that you have done yourself.’ — 
GRODBECK. 

Dark saying of La Rochefoucauld: ‘Le seul honnete 
honune est celui qui ne se pique de rien*. 

‘Ce serait avoir gaagD.6 beaucoup dans la vie que de 
savoir rester toujours parfaitement nature! et 
avec soi-m^me, de ne croire aimer que ce qu’on aime 
v6ritabiement, et de ne pas pnolonger par amour-propre 
et par emulation vaine des passions deia expiries.’ 
— ^SAINTE-BEUYE. 





THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Farewell to Sainte-Beuve 

^Le souvenir est comme une plante qu’il faut avoir 
plantee de bonne heure ensemble; sans quoi elle ne 
s’enracine pas.’ 

‘Les lieux les plus vantes de la terre sont tristes et 
desenchantes lorsqu’on n’y porte plus ses esperances.’ 

‘Quelle que soit la diversite des points de depart les 
esprits capables de murir arrivent, plus qu’on ne croit, 
aux memes rdsultats; combien de gens meurent avant 
d’ avoir fait le tour d’eux-memes.’ 

‘Je ne suis completement moi que plume en main et 
dans le silence du cabinet.’ 

A child, left to play alone, says of quite an easy thing, 
‘Now I am going to do something very difficult’. Soon, 
out of vanity, fear and emptiness, he builck up a world 
of custom, convention and m3rth in which everything 
must be just so; certain doors are one-way streets, 
certain trees sacred, certain paths taboo. Then along 
comes a grown-up or a more robust child; they kick 
over the imaginary wall, climb the forbidden tree, 
regard the difficult as easy and the private world is 
destroyed. The instinct to create myth, to colonize 
reality with the emotions, remains. The myths become 
tyrannies until they are swept away, when we invent 
new tyrannies to hide our suddenly perceived nakedness. 
Like caddis-worms or like those crabs which dress 
themselves with seaweed, we wear belief and custom. 

Taoists believe that devotion to an3rthing except Nature 
ages them and therefore live simply on hill-sides or 
near forests, like the sage whose wants were so few that 
when he decided to leave his cottage he found the 
104 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 


brambles round it had grown too high for him to pass. 
But what becomes of loving Nature if Nature does not 
want us ? Let us go for a walk on the moors ; at first the 
high pure air, the solitude under the hot stin where 
the bums splash and the grouse shrieks, purge us of 
our city poison until art and civilization seem oppressive 
and vulgar, rainbow hues on the d5ring mullet, occupations 
which cut man off from his primitive vegetation-cult. 
Then as the day gets hotter and we stumble on over 
scruffy heather and bubbling bog there is a change; 
Nature would seem not to share in our communion 
and to prefer her own backward progeny; the grouse's 
cackle, raven, falcon, mountain We, the noisy bum, 
the whole hill-side in the hot afternoon become ominous 
and hostile — archaic emblems of Ennui — something 
we have long grown out of. Once more the craving 
revives for architecture, art and the intellect. By the 
evening it is ra in ing and, after the visit to our great, 
gross, unappreciative Mother, we are glad to be back 
with our books and fire-side conversation. It is to 
Civilization, not to Nature that man must return. 

The Vegetable Conspiracy; Man is now on his guard 
against insect parasites; against liver-flukes, termites, 
Colorado beetles, but has he given thought to the 
possibility that he has been selected as the target of 
vegetable attack, marked down by the vine, hop, jtmiper, 
the tobacco plant, tea-leaf and coffee-berry for destruc- 
tion ? What willing converts these Jesuits of the gastric 
juices make, — ^and how cleverly they retain them I 
Does a smoker consider the menace of the weed spreading 
in his garden, will a drunkard read the warning of 
the ivy roxind the oak ? What populations fear the seed- 
strangling rubber or have recorded the increasing 
mortality caused by punctures from the rose? And what 
of gold, that slow mineral poison? 


105 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Money talks through the rich as alcohol swaggers 
in the drunken^ calling soMy to itself to unite into the 
lava flow which petrifies all it touches. 

No one would start to play a game without knowing 
the rules. Yet most of us play the interminable game of 
life without any because we have no idea what they 
are. But there are only two possible systems according 
to whether or not w'e believe in God. If we believe that 
the universe is an accident and life an accident contin- 
gent on the universe and man an accident contingent 
on life; then rules are made for men to be happy and 
it has been found by generations of exponents that 
happiness consists in fulfilment of the personality — 
in former days through the family, now by rendering 
more and more services to a group — ^in fact through 
the happiness of the greatest number. This is the game 
as played by Epicurus, Holbach, Marx, Mill, Bentham, 
Comte, and William James. 

If, how'ever, we believe in God, then our duty is to 
do His will and not our own and our conception of the 
rules varies with our conception of His nature. But 
whatever this conception is we are united in the belief 
that the success or failure of our life as such cannot be 
^timated by any utilitarian standard. 

Faced, then, with these completely different systems 
for this all-important game, can we not find out once 
and for all whether there is a God; whether He has 
strewn clues over the universe for man to pick up or 
whether we ourselves have invented Him, as a useful 
three-letter expression for anythmg which remains 
outside our knowledge? 

The answer seems to rest with three categories of 
thinkers: the physicists, who incline to believe in God 
but are now all busy making explosives; the biologists 
and chemists, who can produce almost everything except 
io6 



LA CLE DBS CHANTS 


life and who, if they could create life, would prove that it 
might once have arisen accidentally; and the psycho- 
logists and physiologists, who are struggling to discover 
the relation of mind to brain, the nature of consciousness. 

A baby, after an exhibition on the pot, with much anger 
and howling, stretches out her arms with a little cry, 
as when her pram is passing under trees, to reveal an 
immense wonder and love for life, — a Soul. I have read 
that the cuckoo enters the world with two advantages 
over other birds : a special muscle on its back for throwing 
them from the nest, and a cry which is irresistible to 
the foster-parents. This sudden cry of recognition and 
pleasure is what keeps us all on the go from grab-all 
to crave. Voluptil The eternal cuckoo call. 

‘O fins d’autonme, hivers, printemps trempes de boue, 
Endormeuses saisons * . . . 

Tout mon mal vient de Paris. There befell the original 
sin and the original ecstasy; there were the holy places — 
the Cross-Roads and the Island. Quai Bourbon, Rue 
de Vaugirard, Quai d’ Anjou. 

Air: Transfretons la Seguanei 

‘ Nous transjEretons la Sequane au dilucule et crepuscule; 
nous deambulons par les compites et quadriviers de 
Purbe, nous despumons la verbodnation latiale.^ 

Evening in June: walking down the Rue Yavin, past the 
shop with ivory canes in the window, away from the 
polyglot bedkm of Montparnasse into the Luxembourg 
garden where children are playing croquet under the 
black-trunked chestnuts and wooi^een catalpas, then 
out at the comer where the Rue Servandoni’s leaning 

107 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

mansards join the sombre Rue de Vaugirard. On by 
the book-booths of the Odeon, by the shimmering 
Fontaine de Medicis and the diners in the open air, 
then through the broad melancholy twilight of the Rue 
Soufflot to the cold splendour of the Pantheon, past 
the blistered shutters of the Hdtel des Grands Hommes. 
There, behind the church, the Rue de la Montagne 
Sainte-Genevieve, Via Sacra of the Latin Quarter, 
winds steeply down the Founder’s holy hill. 

In the doorways sit families on their wooden chairs, 
while from the Bal Musette where Fiesta began the 
Java fades on the sultry air; then across the Rue des 
Ecoles with its groaning trams, and so by the stews and 
noisy Tvine-shops of the Place Maubert to meet the 
Seine at the Quai de la Toumelle. 

Quai Bourbon. Miserere. The Ile-Saint-Louis strains 
at her moorings, the river eddies round the stone prow 
where tail poplars stand like masts, and mist rises about 
the decaying houses which seventeenth-century nobles 
raised on their meadows. Yielding asphalt, sliding 
waters; long windows with iron bars set in damp walls; 
anguish and fear. Rendez-vous des Mariniers, Hotel 
de Lauzun: moment of the night when the saint’s 
blood liquefies, when the leaves shiver and presenti- 
ments of loss stir within the dark coil of our fatality. 

‘Porque sabes que siempre te he querido.* 

Quai Bourbon, Quai d’ Orleans, Quai d’ Anjou. 

Then came the days of ferrets with ribs like wish-bones 
for whom we bought raw liver from the horse-butcher 
in the Rue de Seine while they tunnelled round the 
octagonal room in the Hotel de la Louisiane. They 
pursued oranges, e^s and ping-pong balls and wore 
harness with little bells; and from their number came 
io8 



LA CLE DBS CHANTS 


forth a queen, the tawny, docile Norfolk beauty whom 
we named the English Rose, who performed her cycle 
of eating, playing, sleeping and relieving herself and 
who saw three continents from a warm sleeve. She 
hunted the Rue Monge and the Rue Mouffetard, the 
courts of the Val de Grace and the gardens of the 
Observ’^atoire, the Passage des Princes and the Place 
de Fiirstenberg. She searched the Parc Montsouris 
and the Buttes-Chaumont, the doss-houses of the Rue 
Quincampoix and the Boulevard de la Chapelle; she 
visited the tattered buildings in the Rue de la Goutte 
d’Or and heard the prostitutes calling to each other 
from their beds in the Rue de la Charbonniere; she 
explored the gilt, the plush, the columns and flaking 
ceilings of the Deuxieme Arrondissement, the arcades 
of the Palais-Royal and the Place des Victoires, the 
comer-houses, razor-sharp, in the Rue de la Lune. 
She sniffed at all the gates of Paris: Porte Saint-Denis, 
Porte d’ Orleans, Porte des Lilas; pocket gardens of 
the Gobelin workers along the Bievre, exposed tendons 
of the Nord railway by the Boulevard Barb^ and ware- 
hoxises on the Saint-Martin Canal. Yet most she loved, 
a short walk from her couch of straw, the stony public 
garden by Saint-Gennain-des-Pr6s. 

And many bars where sad-eyed barmen told the seasons 
by clipping chits for ‘grqgs-am6ricains’ and ‘champagne- 
oranges’, and many restaurants, now closed and for- 
gotten, understood her favourite diet of raw egg. The 
Moine Gourmet, the Restaurant de la Chaise with its 
Burgtmdy and Lesbians, Montagnd’s perfection, Eoyot’s 
dyir^ autumnal grandeur, Madame Genot’s austere 
bistro with her home-grown wines, Rosalie’s fresh com, 
Lafon’s pit6, Marius’ pellucid Beaujolais, — in all of 
these she clucked approval. 

And many hoiUes once made her wdcome: the Bateau 

109 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

Ivre in the Place de TOdeon, the old Boeuf, Melody’s 
and the Grand Ecart, the trellised galleries of the Bal 
Blomet and the Stygian reaches of the Magic River 
in Luna-Park. Love came to her in Hampshire and she 
was covered, and in Toulon gave birth to nine fine 
youngsters in the hotel bath. She would wash them and 
clean up their droppings till ambivalence -was engendered 
when, to escape their demands, she would climb on to my 
lap, looking up at us with pale golden eyes and yawning 
to show that nothing was changed. Then one day, 
being hungry, she strayed from the garden and entered 
a cottage kitchen, where she sat up to beg as we had 
taught her — until the ignorant peasants kicked her to 
death and brought back her limp body; filthy-hearted 
women; — ‘Oui, monsieur, on a bien vu qu’elle n’a 
pas voulu mourir.* 

It was after the reign of the English Rose that our days 
were darkened by the graves of the lemurs; on distant 
shores they lie, — ^far from Mad^ascar, yet never far 
from the rocks where the flowering cistus out-blanches 
the salt-encrusting spray. 

‘Living for beauty’, — October on the Mediterranean; 
blue sky scoured by the mistral, red and golden vine 
branches, wind-fretted waves chopping round the empty 
yachts; plane-trees peeling; palms rearing up their 
dingy underlinen; mud in the streets and from doorways 
at night the smell of burning oiL Through the dark 
evening I used to bicyde in to fetch our dinner, past 
the harbour with its bobbing launches and the c^es 
with their signs banging. At the local restaurant there 
would be one or two ‘plats a emporter’, to which I 
would add some wine, sausage and Gruyere cheese, 
a couple of ‘ Diplomates ’ to smoke and a new ‘ Detective’ 
or ‘Chasseur Fraa^ais’; then I would bowl back heavy- 
110 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 

laden with the mistral behind me, a lemur buttoned 
up inside my jacket with his head sticking out. Up the 
steep drive it w^as easy to be blown off into the rosemary, 
then dinner would be spoilt. We ate it with our fingers 
beside the fire, — ^true beauty lovers, — then plunged 
into the advertisements in Country Life, dreaming of 
that Priory at Wareham where we would end our days. 
‘Living for Beauty’ entailed a busy life of answering 
advertisements, writing for prospectuses, for informa- 
tion about cottages in Hampstead, small manors in 
the West — or else for portable canoes, converted 
Dutch barges ‘that could go through the Canals’, 
second-hand yachts, caravans and cars. Homesick, we 
liked best the detective stories, because they reeked 
of whisky, beefsteaks, expresses from Paddington, 
winter landscapes, old inns and Georgian houses that 
screen large gardens off the main street of country 
to^ms. There live the solicitors and doctors and clever 
spinsters who brew home-made poison and who come 
into their own in these exacting tales, there arrive for 
summer the artist from London and the much-consulted 
military man. At last we would go to bed, bolting the 
doors while the lemurs cried in the moonlight, house- 
ghosts bounding from the mulberries to the palms, 
from the palms to the tall pines whose cones the dormice 
nibble, from the pines to the roof, and so to our bedroom 
window where they would press their eager faces to 
the pane. In the bathroom one of us would be washing 
while the other crammed fir-cones in the stove. The 
stove roars, the water is heated and the room fills with 
steamy fragrance. The two lemurs are admitted and 
worm their way down to sleep in the bottom of the bed. 
In the early morning, while we dream of Wareham, 
they will creep out round our feet, seize the aromatic 
tooth-paste in their long black gloves, jump thrcH^ 
the window and spring with it down to the sunny ear^ 

III 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

When I think of lemurs depression engulfs me ‘ a peur 
que le coeur ne me fend*. As W. H. Hudson says, ‘thty 

have angel’s eyes’, and they die of ’flu. 


Graves of the Lemurs 

Whoopee, Gentle and fearless, he passed four leafy 
years in the South of France. He would chase large 
dogs, advancing backwards and glaring through his 
hind legs, ^en jump cluttering at them and pull their 
tails. He died through eating a poisoned fig laid down 
for rats. The children who saw him take the fruit tried 
to coax it from him, but he ran up a tree with it. There 
they watched him eat and die. 

Polyp, Most gifted of lemurs, who hated aeroplanes 
in the sky, on the screen and even on the wireless. How 
he woxild have hated this war! He could play in the 
snow or swim in a river or conduct himself in a night- 
club ; he judged human beings by their voices ; biting 
some, purring over others, while for one or two well- 
seasoned old ladies he would brandish a black prickle- 
studded penis, shaped like an eucalyptus seed. Using 
his tail as an aerial, he would lollop through long grass to 
welcome his owners, embracing them with little cries and 
offering them a lustration from his purple tongue and 
currycomb teeth. His manners were those of some 
spoiled young Maharajah, his intelligence not inferior, 
his heart all delicacy, — ^women, gin and muscats were 
his only weaknesses. Alas, he died of pneumonia while we 
scolded him for coughing, and with him vanished the 
sea-purple cicada kingdom of calanque and stone-pine 
and the concept of life as an arrogant private dream 
shared by two. 


1 12 



LA CLE DBS CHANTS 


As the French soldier said of the Chleuhs in Morocco, 
*Je les aime et je les tue’. So it is with the lemurs, black 
and grey bundles of vitality, eocene ancestors from whom 
we are all descended, whose sun-greeting call some hold 
to be the origin of the word ‘Ra* and thus of human 
language, — vre have treated these kings in exile as we used 
Maoris and Marquesas islanders or the whistling 
Guanches of Teneriffe,— all those golden island-races, 
famous for beauty, whom Europe has taken to its shabby 
heart to exploit and ruin. 

To have set foot in Lemuria is to have been close to 
the mysterious sources of existence, to have known w^hat 
it is to live wholly in the present, to soar through the 
green world four yards above the ground, to experience 
sun, warmth, love and pleasure as intolerably as we 
glimpse them in a waking dream, and to have heard that 
heart-rendering cry of the lonely or abandoned which 
goes back to our primaeval dawn. Wild ghost faces from 
a lost continent who soon will be extinct. . . . 

And ‘living for beauty’: in one lovely place always 
pining for another; with the perfect woman imagining 
one more perfect; with a bad book unfinished beginning 
a second, w^hile the almond tree is in blossom, the grass- 
hopper fat and the viinter night disquieted by the plock 
and gurgle of the sea, — ^that too would seem extinct 
for ever. 

‘Your time is short, watery Palinurus. "^Vhat do you 
believe?* 

‘I believe in two-faced truth, in the Either, the Or 
and the Holy Both. I believe that if a statement is true 
then its opposite must be true. (Aristotle: ‘The know- 
ledge of opposites is one.’) Thus now (November the 
eleventh) I am again interestedinphiiosophy, psydmiogy, 
and religion and am readily about Gnosticisnr, nmst 
I 113 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

exquisite and insidious of heresies, and once more find 
myself among its charms and amulets; its snake-god 
ABRASAX, and the Gnostic theory that Adam in the 
Garden of Eden was the babe in the womb fed by four 
rivers (arteries from the navel), and expelled from his 
mother into the world at the Fall. This time a year ago 
I was interested in these same ideas, reading Lao-Tsu 
with as much passion as I now read Epicurus (and now 
I find that Lao-Tsu was called ‘The Chinese Epicurus^), 
so that it is more true to say that this is the time of year 
when religions are interested in me. Or is it that in late 
autumn the season forbids an active existence, and so we 
are forced back on reading and contemplation, on those 
schemes of thought which imply a corresponding 
rejection of the world ? 

To attain two-faced truth we must be able to resolve 
all our dualities, simultaneously to perceive life as 
comedy and tragedy, to see the mental side of the physical 
and the reverse. We must learn to be at the same time 
objective and subjective — ^iike Flaubert, who enjoyed 
what Thibaudet c^ed ‘la pleine logique artistique de la 
vision binoculaire’, or with that ‘double focus’ which 
Auden beautifully describes in New Year Letter, 

Today the function of the artist is to bring imagination 
to science and science to imagination, where they meet, 
in the myth.^ 

^ Gide gives the perfect two-faced myth-truth about religion 
{Attendu que . . - Algiers 1943 ): 

‘ 11 ne peut €tre question de deux Dieux. Mais je me garde, 
sous ce nom de Dieu, de confondre deux choses tr^ difiifirentes ; 
difKrentes jusqu’^ s’opposer: I>’ime part Tensemble du Cosmos 
et des lois naturelles qui ie rdgissent; mati&re et forces, Energies; 
cela c’est le cdt6 Zeus; et Ton peut bien appeler cela Dieu, 
mais c^est en enlevant a ce mot toute signification personnelle 
et morale, D’autre part le faisceau de tous les efforts humains 
vers le bien, vers le beau, la lente maitrisation de ces forces 
brutales et leur mise en service pour r^aliser le bien et le beau 
sur la terre; ceci, c’est le c6t^ Prom^thde; et c’est le cotd 

114 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 


Now that I seem to have attained a temporary I 
understand how valuable unhappiness can be; melan- 
choly and remorse form the deep leaden keel which 
enables us to sail into the wind of reality; we run 
aground sooner than the flat-bottomed pleasure-lovers 
but we venture out in weather that would sink them 
and we choose our direction. What distinguishes true 
civilization from the mass-fabricated substitutes except 
that tap-root to the Unconscious, the sense of original 
sin ? What artist-philosopher except Voltaire and G^the 
has been without it ? 

Woila ce que tons les socialistes du monde n^ont pas 
voulu voir avec leur etemelle predication materialise, 
ils ont nie la douleury ils ont blasph6me les trois quarts 
de la poesie modeme; le sang du Christ qui se remue en 
nous, rien ne Textirpera, rien ne le tarira, il ne s’agit pas 
de le dess6cher, mais de lui faire des ruisseaux. Si le 
sentiment de rinsufiisance humaine, du neant de la vie, 
venait a perir (ce qui serait la consequence de leur 
hypothec) nous serions plus betes que les oiseaux qui 
au moins perchent sur les arbres.’ — ^Flaubert. 

If we apply depth-psychology to our own lives we see 
how enslaved we remain to the womb and the mother. 
Womb of Mother Church, of Europe, mother of con- 
tinents, of horseshoe harbour and valley, of the lap 
of earth, of the bed, the arm-chair and the bath or of 
the Court of Charles II, of Augustan London, or the 
Rome of Cicero; of the bow-window of the club, of the 
house by the lake or water-front sacred to Venus; — 


Christ aussi hien; c’est r^panouissement de Thomme et toutes 
ies vertus y concourent. Mais ce Dieu n*habite nullement ia 
nature; il n’existe que dans rhomme et par rhomme; il est 
cr^ par rhomme, ou si vous pnSf^rez, c’est a travers Fhomme 
qu’il se cree ; et tout effort reste vain, pour Text^rioriser par la 
pri^.^ 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

ail our lives seeking a womb with a view. Knowing this 
weakness we can make allowance for it in our thhiking, 
aware that these reassuring apron-symbols have their 
parallel in certain sets of ideas; pardcularly in the half- 
mystical and theological, half-legendary beliefs and 
prejudices which we derive from the classical world and 
which form a kind of old wives’ tale or maternal substitute 
for the vigour and audacity of constructive thought. 
Thus I fulfil the childhood pattern of making little 
expeditions into the world outside my myth-mother and 
then running back to her warmth. Yet in these days it is 
important for an artist to grasp that the logical explora- 
tory voyage of reason is the finest process of the mind. 
Every other activity is a form of regression, — ‘ Penser fait 
la grandeur de Thomme’. Thus the much vaunted 
* night-mind’, the subconscious world of myth and 
nostalgia, of child-imagination and instinctual drives, 
though richer, stranger and more absorbing than the 
world of reason, as Isis than Apollo, nevertheless owes 
its strength to our falling back on ah that is primitive 
and infantile; it is an act of cowardice to the God in 
Man. 

Man exudes a sense of reverence like a secretion. He 
smears it over everything and so renders a place like 
Stonehenge or the lake of Nemi (Diana’s mirror) 
particularly sacred, — ^yet the one can become a petrol- 
station and the other be drained by a megalomaniac; no 
grove is too holy to be cut down. When we are tired or 
ill, our capacity for reverence, like our capacity for seeing 
the difficulty of things, increases till it becomes a kind of 
comptdsion-neurosis or superstition; therefore it would 
se«n that the mythoclasts are always right, — ^until we 
know what these mother-haters, these sav^ers of the 
breast, will worship in their turn. Lenin, the father figure 
mu mm i fi ed, replaces the Byzantine Christ. Reverence 
and destruction alternate; therefore the wise two-faced 
-ii6 



LA CLE DBS CHANTS 


man will reverence destructively, like Alaric or Akbar, 
and like Gibbon, Renan, Gide, reverently destroy. 

Example of destructive reverence: Un CMen Andahu} 

Studio Vingt-Huit — high up a winding street of 
Montmartre in the full blasphemy of a freezing Sunday; 
taxis arriving, friends greeting each other, an excitable 
afternoon audience. In the hall stands a surrealist book- 
stall, behind is a bar where a gramophone plays ' Ombres 
Blanches’ and disturbing sardanas while beyond is a 
small modem theatre. The lights are lowered and the 
film begins: ‘Prologue’; ‘Once upon a time’ [I quote 
from the script], ‘a balcony was in the dark. Indoors a 
man was whetting his razor. He looked up through the 
window at the sky and saw a fleecy cloud drawing near to 
the full moon. Then a young girl’s head with staring eyes. 
Now the fleecy cloud passes over the moon. And the 
razor-blade passes through the girl’s eye, slicing it in 
two, — ^End of Prologue.’ The audience gasp — and there 
appear the beautiful haunted creatures, — Pierre Batchef 
as the young man, the cyclist, with his intellectual 
distinction and romantic depravity, then his Spanish- 
looking heroine. And the lovely girl in the street, who 
picks up the severed hand with the painted fingers ! ‘ She 
must at that very moment register an extraordinary 
emotion which completely distracts her. She is as ^ 
entranced by echoes of some fer-off church music, 
perhaps it is the music she has heard in earliest child- 
hood . . . She remains rooted to the spot in utter contri- 
tion. Motor-cars flash by at break-ne^ speed. Suddenly 
she is run over by one and horribly mutilated. There- 
upon, with the firmness of one doing what he is fully 

^ * Un Chien Andalou was the film of adolescence and death 
which I was going to plunge i^t into the heart of Paris with 
all the weight of an Iberian dagger.* — 

iry 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

entitled to do, the cyclist comes up to the other and, 
having gazed lecherously straight into her eyes, puts his 
hand on her jumper over her breasts. Close-up of the 
eager hands touching the breasts. These themselves 
appear through the jumper. Thereupon the cyclist’s face 
is seen to take on a look of terrible, almost mortal 
anguish, and blood dribbles from his mouth on to the 
girl’s bared breast.’ 

So the film hurries to its end where the woman and her 
cyclist lover ‘lie buried up to their necks in the limitless 
desert, blind and ragged, roasted by the sim and eaten by 
a swarm of insects’. This contemptuous private world of 
jealousy and lust, of passion and aridity, whose beautiful 
occupants patter about like stoats in search of blood, 
produced an indescribable effect, a tremendous feeling 
of excitement and liberation. The Id had spoken and, — 
through the obsolete medium of the silent film, — ^the 
spectators had been treated to their first glimpse of the 
fires of despair and frenzy which were smouldering 
beneath the complacent post-war world. 

The picture was received with shouts and boos and when 
a pale young man tried to make a speech, hats and sticks 
were flung at the screen. In one comer a woman was 
chanting ‘Saiopes, salopes, salopesl’ and soon the 
audience began to join in. With the impression of having 
witnessed some infinitely ancient horror, Saturn swallow- 
ing his sons, we made our way out into the cold of 
February 1929, that unique and dazzHng cold.^ 

Why does this strong impression stOl persist ? Because 
Un Chien Andcdou brought out the grandeur of the 
conflict inherent in romantic love, the truth that the 
heart is made to be broken, and after it has mended, to be 
broken ^ain. For romantic love, the supreme intoxica- 

^ ‘A date in the history of the Cinema, a date matired in 
l^ood^-^Mojties (Dali: Autobiography}, 

I18 



LA CLE- DES CHANTS 


tion of which we are capable, is more than an intensifying 
of life; it is a defiance of it and belongs to those evasions* 
of reality through excessive stimulus which Spinoza 
called ‘titivations’. By the law of diminishing returns 
our desperate century forfeits the chance of being happy 
and, because it finds happiness insipid, our world is 
regressing to chaos. 

Wliy ? Because, as in the days of the Delphic Oracle, 
happiness consists in temperance and self-knowledge, 
and these are now beyond the reach of ordinary people 
w^ho, owing to the pursuit of violent sensation, can no 
longer distinguish between pleasure and pain. 

‘Happiness is the only sanction of life; where happiness 
fails, existence remains a mad and lamentable experi- 
ment,* vrrites Santayana, which is but a restatement of 
Aristotle’s definition that happiness, not goodness, is the 
end of life: ‘we choose happiness for itself, and never 
with a view to anything forther; whereas we choose 
honour, pleasure, intellect, because we believe that 
through them we shall be made happy.* Yet at once the 
ring of the words ‘mad and lamentable’ drowns the 
definition. A ‘mad and lamentable experiment’ seems to 
us more compulsive, more beguiling, and more profound 
in its appeal. Compare Aristotle and Santa5rana with a 
mental specialist, Doctor Devine. I quote from his 
Recent Advances in Psychiatry: 

‘Sometimes the development of a delusion leads to a 
cessation of tension, and is associated with a feeling of 
tranquillity and certainty, such as the patient had not 
hitherto experienced. A study of the past history of these 
cases sometimes creates the impression that the whole 
life had been converging to its solution in the psychosis 
in an inevitable kind of way. It is not unusual for a 
patient to say that his whole life had been like a dream 

119 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

and that now he feels awake for the first time. The 
delusion is, as it were, the inspiration for which he had 
long been waiting. . . • Something altogether unique is 
created in a psychosis; the mind is invaded by morbid 
mental growths.’ 

Thus in opposition to Aristotle’s definition of happiness 
as an intensifying of the life of reason, w’e can oppose the 
existence of these illusion-ridden patients, the para- 
phrenics who have * achieved a state of permanent 
bio-psychic equilibrium at the expense of their reason’ — 
and there are also schizophrenes and manic-depressives 
whose lives are rich and crowded above the normal. To 
quote Dr. Devine: ‘The schizophrenic does not suffer 
from a loss of something, he suffers from a surfeit, 
psychologically his consciousness is fuller than normal 
consciousness and the reality which it embraces is more 
thickly populated than that comprehended by the normal 
mind. . . . The conscious personality plays a passive role 
as far as" the development of his psychosis is concerned 
and can do nothing to control what is happening wi thin 
his organism.’ 

This moth-and-candle preoccupation with the Morbid 
Mind is but one of the Approaches to Pain which 
nowadajre seem so rich in glamour. Insanity beckons us 
to fulfil high destinies and to recognize our paraphrenic 
vocation. Milder forms of manic-depression withdraw 
the over-sensitive from circulation to let them off lightly 
with an anxiety-neurosis or nervous breakdown ; tubercu- 
losis offers some a prolonged ecstasy; alcohol clowns 
others into oblivion; stomach-ulcers, piles and colitis 
provide us with honourable excuses; impotence or 
frigidity can always be relied upon to stop the cheque and 
every degree of fever is at hand to send up our emotional 
temperature. And what illness performs for the indivi- 
lao 



LA CLE DES CHAMS 


dual, war accomplishes for the mass, until total war 
succeeds in plunging the two thousand million inhabi- 
tants of the globe into a common nightmare. 

Why? ‘Because,* say the priests, ‘men have forgotten 
God*; ‘wanting the Pilot and Palinure of reason and 
religion they ninne themselves upon the rocks’; 
‘because,* say the materialists, ‘they have neglected 
economic principles’; ‘because,’ says a philosopher, ‘a 
madman at Sils Maria once wrote a book which, fifty 
years later, inspired another in Munich*. Or because we 
blindly enjoy destruction and can think of nothing 
better, since for us 

Le printemps adorable a perdu son odeur ? 

Why do we like war ? Is it that all men would revenge 
themselves for their betrayal by their mothers and of 
their mothers, hitting out blindly to efface the memory 
of the triple expulsion— expulsion from the sovereignty 
of the womb, from the sanctuary of the breast, from the 
intoxication of the bed and the lap ? 

No, it is not just through our weaning that we learn to use 
our teeth on one another, nor even from the terrible rebuff 
which we can still remember when our mother began to 
reject our advances and we were packed off to the living 
death of school, so much as by that more subtle condi- 
tioning which Freud analyses in Beyond ike Pleasure 
Principle. There he argues that certain patterns of child- 
hood unhappiness and separation are re-enacted in later 
life. ‘Thus one knows people writh whom eveiy relation- 
ship ends in the same way: benefactors whose prot^^ 
invariably after a time desert them in ill-will, men with 
whom every friendship ends in the fidend’s treachery, 
lovers whose tender reiation^ps with women each and 
all run through the same phases and conw to the same 

tzi 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

end ... in the light of such observations as these, we 
may venture to make the assximption that there really 
exists in psychic-life a repetition-compulsion which goes 
beyond the pleasure principle.’ In Cwilization and Its 
Discontents Freud considers all prevailing nostrums for 
happiness and finds them wanting; in our culture Eros 
and the Death- wish fight it out; in our civilization there 
is a Superego w?hich makes us all feel guilty and a 
repressive and anal element in the bureaucratic tidiness, 
caution, and frugality of the society which we have made. 

Yet to blame society or the tyranny of the herd is but 
to distribute the blame on the individual in a more 
general way. If we had all enjoyed happy childhoods 
with happy parents, then prisons, barracks and asylums 
would be empty. The herd would be kinder, society 
wiser, the world would be changed. Man, however, is 
complete not only through being well adjusted to 
humanity; humanity must also be adjusted to the non- 
human, to the Nature which it perpetually thw^arts and 
outrages, to the indifferent Universe. In Gide’s use of 
the myth, Prometheus must come to terms with Zeus. If 
we return to our fortunate madmen, not to the remorse- 
stricken melancholiacs, but to those who are happier for 
their renunciation of the external world, we find that 
they are happy because ‘they have achieved permanent 
bio-psychic equilibrium at the expense of their reason’. 

In other words, bio-psychic equilibrium is such an 
intense and unfailing soiurce of happiness that the loss of 
their reason and of all personal contact with reality are a 
small price for these Taoists to pay. Now this bio-psychic 
equilibrium is but that sensation of harmony with the 
universe, of accepting life and of being part of nature 
which we experience in childhood and which afterwards 
we discover through love, artistic creation, the pursuit of 
wisdom, through mystical elation or luminous calm* 
122 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 


‘The greatest good/ wrote Spinoza, ‘is the knowledge of 
the union which the mind has with the whole nature’, 
and those who have found this out, who have opened 
Nature’s Dictionary of Synonyms, do not wish for any 
other. But we live in a civilization in which so few can 
experience it, where ‘ Le vrai, c’est le secret de quelques- 
uns’, where those who have been fortunate are like 
competitors in a treasure hunt w^ho, while the others are 
still elbowing each other about and knocking things 
over, in silence discover the clue, know that they are 
right and sit down. 

Moreover, even as obscure poisons, foci of infection, 
septic teeth and germ-crowded colons play a part in the 
origins of insanity, so do slums, great cities, proletarian 
poverty and bourgeois boredom or tyrannies of family 
and herd contribute to obscure our sense of union with 
the physical world. * The misery of mankind is manifold’ 
and breeds everywhere the despair, fear, hate and des- 
truction which ulcerate our peace. Nature is banished 
from our civilization, the seasons lose their rhythm, the 
fruits of the earth their savour, the animals, co-heirs of 
our planet, are wantonly exterminated, the God within 
us is denied and the God without. Wisdom and serenity 
become treasures to be concealed and happiness a lost 
art. Resentment triumphs; the frustrated ‘Have-nots’ 
massacre the ‘Haves’. We are in fact within sight of 
achieving a world neurosis, a world in which atrophy of 
the instincts (except that of herd-slaughter), abuse of the 
intellect and perversion of the heart will obKterate our 
knowledge of the purpose of life: humanity will choke in 
its own bile. 

When the present slaughter terminates humanity can 
survive only through a return to the idea of happin^s as 
the highest good, happiness which lies not in Power or in 
the exercise of the Will, but in the flowering of the ^irit, 
and which in an unwarped society should coincidfi with 

123 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

consciousness. The justification for the State therefore 
will consist in rendering the individuals who compose it 
happier than they can make themselves by helping them 
to fulfil their potentialities, to control their Promethean 
environment and to revere the Zeus-environment 
which they cannot master. When once we have dis- 
covered how pain and suffering diminish the personality 
and how joy alone increases it, then the morbid attraction 
which is felt for evil, pain and abnormality will have lost 
its power. Why do we reward our men of genius, our 
suicides, our madmen and the generally maladjusted 
with the melancholy honours of a posthumous curiosity? 
Because we know that it is our society which has con- 
demned these men to death and wliich is guilty because, 
out of its own ignorance and malformation, it has 
persecuted those who were potential saviours; smiters of 
the rock who might have touched the spring of healing 
and brought us back into harmony with ourselves. 

Somehow, then, and without going mad, we must learn 
from these madmen to reconcile fanaticism with serenity. 
Either one, taken alone, is disastrous, yet except through 
the integration of these two opposites there can be no 
great art and no profoimd happiness — ^and what else is 
worth having? For nothing can be accomplished without 
fanaticism and without serenity nothing can be enjoyed. 
Perfection of form or increase of knowledge, pursuit of 
fame or service to the community, love of God or god of 
Love, — ^we must select the Illusion which appeals to our 
temperament and embrace it with passion, if we want to 
be happy. This is the farewell autumn precept with which 
Palinurus takes leave of his fast-fading nightmare, 
‘fai cueilli ce brin de bruyere.' 

And now one more year of knowing nothing has gone by: 
once more the Pleiads are sinking; the plane-tree is bare; 
the bowstring relaxed. Exorcized is the dark face from 

£^4 



LA CLE DES CHANTS 


the island poplars, droned in the swirl of the moon- 
tarnished river; dishonoured are the graves of the 
lemurs; untended the sepulchre of the Prince on 
Gavrinis, forgotten as an Andalusian dog. 

But thou, mimosa-shaded Siagne, flowing clear between 
the two Saint-Cassiens, receive Palinurus, — gently bear 
him imder the scented Tanneron, past Auribeau and 
Mandelieu and the shrine on the tufted mount of Venus 
to his tomb by the shore.^ 

There, in the harsh sunshine, among the sea-holly and 
the midday plant, eringo and mesembryanthemum, 
where the tide prints its colophon of burnt drift-wood 
and the last susurrus of the wave expires on the sand, — 
naked under his watery sign shall he come to rest; a man 
too trustful in the calm of sky and sea. 

0 nimium coelo et pel^o confise sereno 

Nudus in ignota, Palinure, jacebis harena, 

^ Palinurus enters the Siagne by the deserted village of Saint- 
Cassien des Bois ; from there he floats some ten miles dovm to 
the wooded mound of Arluc, where stands the chapel of Saint- 
Cassien, scene of a pilgrimage and other nocturnal festivities 
on July 23rd. The chapel, which is surrounded by ancient elms 
and cypresses, overlooks the old delta of the Siagne from the 
site of a pagan temple dedicated by Roman sailors to V«ius. 
‘Nazarhis, vir strenuus et pius, non ferens animas hoaninum 
illudi fraude diaboUca, delubrum et aram impudicae Veneri 
prope pontem fluminis nunc vulgo nuncupati Siagnia, omnino 
eliminari ctiravit . . — {ChrondL Lerin., II, p. 80.) 

(The pious and energetic Nazarius would not permit men'^s 
minds to be deceived by a fraud of the Devil, and so he cnused 
the ruined altar, dedicated to licentious Venus, to be utta'Iy 
destroyed ; that * altar of the grove ’ on the mound called Ariuc, by 
the bridge over the river now commonly known as the Siagne.) 

Palinurus thus completes his periplus among the stcme-pines 
on the beach by La Napoule. This is at variance with Virgil's 
account in which , iEneas names after him Capo Palmuio qa 
die Gulf of Policastro, and marks one nmre of the dibcrepaneiea 
which lead one to question the author's veracity* 

3E2S 



EPILOGUE 


WHO WAS PALINURUS? 

The winding shelves do us detain^ 

Till God, the Palinure returns again, 

FULLER, 1640: Joseph’s Coat. 

Let us examine him: study the Psychiatrist’s confidential 
report. 


REPORT 

Diagnosis. Strongly marked palinuroid tendencies. 
Prognosis. Grave. 

Clinical Picture. The story of Palinurus is only to be 
found in the third, fifth and sixth books of Virgil’s 
Aeneid. The third book forms part of -®neas’ relation to 
Dido of the events that befell him after the fall of Troy 
and consequently everything and everyone in it are seen 
through his eyes. This may be a cause of subjective bias, 
where the references in that book are concerned. 

Nothing is known of Palinurus’ heredity except that, 
like the physician Iap3^, he was a Trojan and descended 
ftom lasus. iEneas addresses him as Taside Palinure’. 
There is no evidence of any inherited psychopathic 
tendency. The first mention of Palinurus exhibits hiTn 
in a confiision-state and suggests that, although usually a 
well-adjusted and efficient member of society, the pilot 
was experiencing a temporary ‘black-out’. The passage 
126 



WHO WAS PALINURUS? 


introduces that undulant sea-music which will accom- 
pany Palinurus on his all too rare appearances. The 
translator is Dryden. 

Now from the sight of Land our Gallies move, 

With only Seas around, and Skies above. 

When o’er our Heads, descends a burst of Rain; 

And Night, with sable Clouds involves the Main: 
The ruffling Winds the foamy Billows raise 
The scatter’d Fleet is forc’d to sev’ral Ways: 

The face of Heav’n is ravish’d from our Eyes, 

And in redoubl’d Peals the roaring Thunder flies. 
Cast from our Course, we wander in the Dark; 

No Stars to guide, no point of Land to mark. 

Ev’n PaUnunis no distinction found 
Betwixt the Night and Day; such Darkness reign’d 
around. 

(Talinurus in unda’ — ^Note the theme at his first 
appearance.) 

The storm casts the ships on the Strophades, where the 
Harpies foul and plunder the heroes’ open-air buffet. In 
vain the trumpeter Misenus blows the call to action: the 
Harpies are attacked but prove invulnerable and one, 
Celaeno, curses the leader and his band, prophesying war 
and famine. They set sail again, the dactylic sea music 
reappears — and with it the master pilot. 

Tendunt vela Noti; fugimus spumantibus undis. 
qua cursum ventusque gubematorque vocabat, 
jam medio apparet fluctu nemorosa Zacynthos 
Dulichiumque Sameque et Neritos ardua saxis. 

South winds stretch the sails, we run over the bubbling 
waters where the breezes and the Pilot call the course, 

127 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

now Zaqnathos covered with woods appears in the 
middle of the sea, and Dulichium and Same and Neritus 
with its steep cliffs ’ — (" Zante, Zante fiore di 
Levante’). . . . 

At length the pilot’s moment approaches — 

The Night proceeding on with silent pace, 

Stood in her noon ; and view’d with equal Face 
Her steepy rise, and her declining Race, 

Then wakeful Falinurus rose, to spie 
The face of Heav’n, and the Nocturnal Skie ; 

And listen’d ev’ry breath of Air to try : 

Observes the Stars, and notes their sliding Course: 
The Pleiads, Hyads, and their wat’ry force; 

And both the Bears is careful to behold ; 

And bright Orion arm’d with burnish’d Gold. 

Then when he saw no threat’ning Tempest nigh. 

But a sure promise of a settled skie ; 

He gave the Sign to weigh: we break our sleep ; 
Forsake the pleasing Shore, and plow the Deep. 

A situation of considerable strain arises on the passage 
between Scylla and Charybdis: 

First PalinuTus to the Larboard veer’d ; 

Then all the Fleet by his Example steer’d. 

To Heav’n aloft on ridgy Waves we ride; 

Then down to Hell descend, when they ^vide. 

And thrice our Gailies knock’d the stony ground, 
And thrice the hollow Rocks return’d the soimd. 

And thrice we saw the Stars, that stood with dews 
around. 

Harpies, Scylla, Charybdis, the Cyclops, Etna in erup- 
tion I Each one of the trials which the exiled pilot must 
12a 



WHO WAS PALlNVRVSf 


have undergone could occasion an anxiety-neurosis or 
effort-syndrome in a man less well-balanced. One 
wonders how he reacted to iEaeas’ public account of 
them. Dido, we know, fell disastrously ‘in love" with 
i^neas, and it is when he departs (iEneas abandoning 
her after their cave-wedding), that Palinunis speaks 
again. The fleet has stolen out in the early morning and 
Dido has set alight her funeral pyre whose glow the 
sailors see, but ^neas alone interprets rightly. At once a 
storm gets up. 


But soon the Heav’ns with shadows were overspread; 
A swelling Cloud hung hov’ring o’er their Head: 
Livid it look’d (the threat’ning of a Storm), 

Then Night and Horror Ocean’s Face deform. 

The Pilot Palinunis ciy’d aloud, 

‘What Gusts of Weather from that gath’ring Cloud 
My Thoughts presage ; e’er yet the Tempest roars. 
Stand to your Tackle, Mates, and stretch your Oars ; 
Contract your swelling Sails, and luff to Wind’ 

The frighted Crew perform the Task assign’d. 

Then, to his fearless Chief, ‘ Not Heav’n,’ said he, 

‘ Tho ’ J&oe himself shou’d promise Italy y 
Can stem the Torrent of this raging Sea. 

Mark how the shifting Winds from West arise, 

And what collected Night involves the Skies 1 
Nor can our shaken V«sels live at Sea, 

Much less against the Tempest force their way; 

’Tis fate diverts our Course ; and Fate we must obey. 
Not far from hence, if I observ’d aright 
The southing of the Stars and Polar Li^t, 

SidUa lies ; whose hospitable Shores 
In safety we may reach with strugling oars* . 

The Course resolv’d, before the We^m Wnd 
They scud amain; and make the Port ass%n’d* 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

It seems clear that Palinurus who had led the fleet 
between Scylla and Charybdis, recognized that this 
storm could not be ridden out because he knew it 
followed on Eneas’ betrayal of Dido. He also read the 
true meaning of the fire which they had seen and from 
that moment realized that was guilty of hubris 

and impiety; he was ‘not the Messiah’. 

In Sicily Mneas celebrates his arrival with elaborate 
games. In these — although they include various sailing 
contests — Palinurus himself does not join and lets the 
other pilots fight them out. One can imagine him brood- 
ing over the storm and his leader’s conduct while the 
noisy sport proceeds around him. Finally, to prevent the 
men leaving, the women set fire to the ships and four are 
destroyed. Here occurs an incident for which no scientific 
explanation is forthcoming, and which, if the narrator 
were Palinurus and not Viigil, we would be tempted to 
ascribe to a delusion of reference. Venus begs Neptune 
to guarantee that her beloved JEnoas and all his men will 
not be subjected to any more disasters and storms at sea 
by their enemy, Juno. Neptune agrees, but warns her 
that ‘ In safety as thou prayest shall he reach the haven of 
Avemus. Only one shall there be whom, lost in the flood, 
thou shalt seek in vain; one life shall be given for many.’ 

Unus erit tantum, amissum quern gurgite quaeres 
unum pro multis dabitur caput. 

Then the fleet sets sail. 

A Head of all the Master Pilot steers 
And as he leads, the following Navy veers. 

The Steeds of Night had traveil’d half the Sky, 

The drowsy Rowers on their Benches lye ; 

When the soft God of Sleep, with easie flight. 
Descends, and draws behind a trail of Light. 

130 



WHO WAS PALINURUS? 


Thou Palimrus art his destin’d Prey; 

To thee alone he takes his fatal way. 

Dire Dreams to thee, and Iron Sleep he bears; 

And lighting on thy Prow, the Form of Phorbas 
wears. 

Then thus the Traitor God began his Tale: 

* The Winds, my Friend, inspire a pleasing gale; 

The Ships, without thy Care, securely sail. 

Now steal an hour of sweet Repose; and I 
Will take the Rudder, and thy room supply.’ 

To whom the yauning Pilot, half asleep ; 

* Me dost thou bid to trust the treach’rous Deep 1 
The Harlot-smiles of her dissembling Face, 

And to her Faith commit the Trofan Race ? 

Shall I believe the Syren South again, 

And, oft betray’d, not know the Monster Main ? ’ 

He said, his fasten’d hands the Rudder keep. 

And fix’d on Heav’n, his Eyes repel invading Sleep. 
The God was wroth, and at his Temples threw 
A Branch in Lethe dip’d, and drunk with Stygian 
Dew: 

The Pilot, vanquish’d by the Pow’r Divine, 

Soon clos’d his swimming Eyes, and lay supine. 
Scarce were his Limbs extended at their length. 

The God, insulting with superior Strength, 

Fell heavy on him, plung’d him in the Sea, 

And, with the Stem, the Rudder tore away. 
Headlong he fell, and struggling in the Main, 

Cry’d out for helping hands, but cry’d in vain : 

The Victor Daemon mounts obscure in Air; 

While the Ship sails without the Pilot’s care. 

On Neptme^s Faith the floating Fleet relies; 

But what the Man forsook, the God supplies; 

And o’er the dang’rous Deep secure the Navy flies. 
Glides by the Syren* $ Cliffs, a sheify Coast, 

Long infamous for Ships, and Sailors lost; 





THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

And white with Bones: Th’ impetuous Ocean 
roars; 

And Rocks rebellow from the sounding Shores. 

The watchftil Heroe felt the knocks ; and found 

The tossing Vessel sail’d on shoaly Ground. 

Sure of his Pilot’s loss, he takes himself 

The Helm, and steers aloof, and shuns the Shelf. 

Inly he griev’d; and groaning from the Breast, 

Deplor’d his Death; and thus his Pain express’d: 

^For Faith repos’d on Seas, and on the flatt’ring 
Sky, 

Thy naked Corps is doom’d, on Shores unknown to 
lye.’ 

The account is full of difficulties. ‘Te Palinure petens, 
tibi somnia tristia portans insonti’ — ‘Looking for you, 
Palinurus, bringing you sad visions, guiltless though you 
are.’ But was Palinurus guiltless ? If, as we suggest, he was 
tired of the fruitless voyage, horrified by the callousness 
of ^neas, by the disasters which he seemed to attract by 
his rowdy games, by the ultimate burning of some of the 
ships by the angry women, — ^that act unforgivable in the 
eyes of a man of the sea, — ^then was his disappearance as 
accidental as ^Eneas supposed ? Sleep first appears 
disguised as Phorbas. Now Phorbas was already dead — 
killed in the siege of Troy. He represents the ‘old 
school’ of Trojan. In Virgil’s account, the God of Sleep 
is angry when Palinurus refuses the first temptation. But 
surely the clue we should notice is that, although the sea 
is calm, Palinurus when he falls takes with him tiller, 
rudder and a section of poop. Tillers may come off easily 
but not part of the stem! Thus he provides himself not 
only with a raft but inflicts a kind of castration on 
.^Eneas by removing both his chief pilot and his means of 
steering, and this within the dangerous orbit of the 
Sirens! Surely this is a typical example of anti-social 
J3Z 



WHO WAS PALINURUS? 


hysteroid resentment 1 And how does JEness take the 
helm, when it is there no longer?^ 

^neas* last words ‘ For Faith repos’d on seas . . : 

O nimium coelo et pelago confise sereno 

nudus in ignota, Palinure, jacebis harena. 

are doubly ironical — ^for Palinurus boasted that he was 
far too experienced to trust the sea again (‘Mene huic 
confidere monstro?’), and Dido has also prayed for 
exactly the same fate for /Eneas, — ‘Let him fall before 
his time’ — ‘Sed cadat ante diem mediaque inhumatus 
harena’, ‘and lie unburied amid the sand*. It would not 
be fair to the reader to let this subject pass without 
referring to Mr. W. F* Jackson Elnight’s fascinating 
study, Cunusan Gates (Basil Blackwell), where he makes 
the supposition that Palinurus’ removal of the stem of 
the ship was a VirgiHan echo of the Babylonian Epic of 
Gilgamish, in which Gilgamish, bound for the lower 
regions, loses some essential part of his boat, and has to 
cut himself a quantity of punt-poles, even as /Eneas had 
to lop the Golden Bough, to ensure his crossing to the 
tmderworld. 

Palinurus, still clutching the tiller of his improvized 
raft, tosses on the pallid wastes of the heaving Sicilian. 
Three tim^ the red sun sinks and the sheen of opal 
darkens on the cold and ancient gristle of the sea, three 
times the cloudswept Pleiads glimmer from the rainy 
South before at last the creaming and insouciant surf 
relinquishes its prey. On the Lucanian shore by Velia he 
lands and is immediately set upon by the fanilish 
inhabitants. Not having received burial, he must wait a 
hundred years on the banks of the Styx btfote he can 

^ ‘What the Man forsook, the God sii^jplies" is an hkcr- 
polatkm of Drydoa’s. Clavus (key* tiller) can 2^90 mean 
penis. 





THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

cross. Here jEneas, on his oflScial visit to the Shades, 
rejoins him, to whom Palinums at once appeals, pro- 
testing his innocence in a manner with which those who 
have had experience of such patients are familiar. 

Amidst the Spirits Palinurus press’d ; 

Yet fresh from life ; a new admitted Guest. 

Who, while he steering view’d the Stars, and bore 
His Course from Affrick^ to the Latian Shore, 

Fell headlong down. The Trojan fix’d his view, 

And scarcely through the gloom the sullen Shadow 
knew. 

Then thus the Prince, *What envious Pow’r, O 
Friend, 

Brought your lov’d Life to this disastrous end ? 

For Phcebus^ ever true in all he said. 

Has, in your fate alone, my Faith betray’d ? 

To God foretold you shou’d not die, before 
You reach’d, secure from Seas, th’ Italian Shore ? 

Is this th’ unerring Pow’r ? ’ The Ghost reply’d, 

* Nor Phosbus flatter’d, nor his Answers ly’d; 

Nor envious Gods have sent me to the Deep : 

But white the Stars, and course of Heav’n I keep, 

My weary’d Eyes were seiz’d with fatal sleep.^ 

I fell ; and with my weight, the Helm constrain’d, 
Was drawn along, which yet my gripe retain’d. 

Now by the Winds, and raging Waves, I swear. 

Your Safety, more than mine, was then my Care : 
Lest, of the Guide bereft, the Rudder lost, 

Your Ship shou’d run against the rocky Coast. 

Three blust’ring Nights, bom by the Southern blast, 
I floated; and discover’d Land at last: 

^ In the original, Palinurus makes no mention of being 
asleep, nor is there any other mention of Apollo’s prophecy, 
which may be a trap set by ^neas. Notice how Palinurus’ 
reply is calculated to allay suspicion. 

^34 



WHO WAS PALINURUSP 


High on a mounting Wave, my head I bore : 

Forcing my Strength, and gath’ring to the Shore : 
Panting, but past the danger, now I seiz’d 
The Craggy Cliffs, and my tir’d Members eas’d : 
While, cumber’d with my dropping Cloaths, I lay, 
The cruel Nation, covetous of Prey, 

Stain’d with my Blood th* unhospitable Coast: 

And now, by Winds and Waves, my lifeless Limbs 
are tost. 

Which, 0 avert, by yon Ethereal Light 
Which I have lost, for this eternal Night: 

Or, if by dearer ties you may be won, 

By your dead Sire, and by your living Son, 

Redeem from this Reproach, my wand’ring Ghost ; 
Or with your Navy seek the VeEn Coast: 

And in a peaceful Grave my Corps compose: 

Or, if a nearer way your Mother shows, 

Without whose Aid, you durst not imdertake 
This frightful Passage o’er the Stygian Lake; 

Lend to this Wretch your Hand, and waft him o’er 
To the sweet Banks of yon forbidden Shore.* 

Scarce had he said, the Prophetess began; 

* What hopes delude thee, miserable Man ? 

Think’st ^ou thus unentomb’d to cross the Floods, 
To view the Furies, and Infernal Gods; 

And visit, without leave, the dark abodes ? 

Attend the term of loi^ revolving years : 

Fate, and the dooming Gods, are deaf to Tears. 

This Comfort of thy dire Misfortune take; 

The Wrath of Heav’n, inflicted for thy sake. 

With Vengeance shall pursue th* inhuman Coast 
Till they propitiate thy offended Ghost, 

And raise a Tomb, with Vows, and solemn Pray’r; 
And PaEnums^ name the Place shall bear.* 

This calm’d his Cares: sooth’d with his future Fame; 
And pleas’d to hear his propagated Name, 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

It is noteworthy that not i^neas, but the stem Sibyl 
makes reply. Palinurus moreover makes no mention of 
having Men asleep, but says ‘the helm was violently 
tom from him*. It is worth remarking that his fate bears 
a close resemblance to that of Elpenor, in the Eleventh 
Odyssey. We may contrast Palinurus* appeal ‘ nunc me 
fiuctus habet ... da dextram misero’ with Elpenor’s 
request for a burial and a proper tombstone, ‘memorial 
of an xmhappy man for those who come after*. 

His death is very closely paralleled by that of Misenus, 
the trumpeter of .^Eneas, who was drowned in the surf at 
Cumae a few days after Palinurus, while ^Eneas was 
consulting the Sibyl and whose fame was also secured 
after biirial by the naming of a cape after him. Misenus 
may never have recovered from the ignominy of his 
ineffectual trumpeting to the Harpies. That -Eneas 
sho\ild lose two of his most skilled technicians, pilot and 
trumpeter, and shortly afterwards, his old nurse, Caieta, 
at this moment w’hen he visits the underworld, and there 
consecrates himself entirely to his Empire-building 
mission, may suggest that there was an ‘old guard* who 
had had enough of him, who imconsciously did not wish 
to enter the promised land or to go through with the 
slaughter necessary to possess it.^ 

Phrontis, pilot of Menelaus, also died mysteriously 
while at the helm off Cape Sunium (Od. iii, 1 . 285). 

^ * Virgil knew the cost of Empire ; the cost in suffering, and 
the cost to conscience and to so many graceful things. That he 
knew the cost his poem shows so clearly that it has lately been 
thought to be a savage attack on Augustus and autocracy’. — 
w. j. K N I G H T , op. cit. p. 168. 

'Hie Palinurus passages are so charged with haunting images 
and golden cadences as to suggest that Virgil has identified 
himself with his pilot (as did Milton with Oipheus). Both 
poets refiect their unconscious death- wish. Palinurus: .$neas:: 
Virgil I Augustus. 

136 



WHO WAS PALINURUS? 


Virgil in fact makes use of three doubles: Palinurus- 
Phrontis, the pilot who falls into the sea, Palinurus- 
Elpenor, the unburied corpse who pleads with the hero 
in hell, and Palinurus-Misenus, the Cape-christener, 
Dion5rsus records an older tradition in which -iEneas and 
his fleet first touched land at Cape Palinuro, in which 
case Virgil has stolen the honour from the pilot for Cape 
IVIiseno and Cumae. 

Those are all the known facts about Palinurus, 
Whether he deliberately tried to abandon Mness^ 
whether he was the innocent victim of divine vengeance 
or a melancholy and resentful character who felt his 
special nautical gift was soon to become unwanted cannot 
be deduced from the evidence. His blufF sailor’s manner 
may belie his real state of mind. I am inclined to rule out 
both suicide (there are no symptoms comparable to those 
of Dido when she felt all nature prompting her to the 
deed) and accident, for the stems of ships do not fall off 
in calm seas. We are left, therefore, with design— a 
planned act of escape and revenge by Palinurus — or widi 
supernatural intervention, in the shape of a propitiatory 
sacrifice of the Pilot to Juno, who might otherwise have 
prevented the safe arrival of ^neas and his whole 
expedition. 

Which of these alternatives we accept is, in the last 
analysis, a question of the claims of reason versus dmse 
of revealed religion. 

As a myth, however, and particularly as a myth with 
a valuable psychological interpretation, Palinurus cfeariy 
stands for a certain will-to-failuie or repugnance-to- 
success, a desire to give up at the last moinent, an urge 
towards loneliness, isolation and obscurity. Palinurus, in 
spite of his great ability and his conspicuous public 
position, deserted his post in the moment of vktory and 
opted for the unkimwn shore. 


137 



THE UNQUIET GRAVE 

With the sea — age-old s3?inbol of the unconscious — 
his relations were always close and harmonious, and not 
until he reaches land is he miserably done to death. 

And as with so many of those who resign from the 
struggle, who quit because they do not want to succeed, 
because they find something vulgar and even unlucky in 
success itself — ^immediately he feels remorse and misery 
at his abdication and \vishes he had stuck to his job. 
Doing is overrated and success undesirable, but even 
more so the bitterness of Failure. Palinurus, in fact, 
though he despises the emptiness of achievement, the 
applause of the multitude and the rewards of fame, comes 
in his long exile to hate himself for this contempt and so 
he jumps childishly at the chance to be perpetuated as an 
obscure cape.^ 

One last clue: The name Palinurus {'iraXivovpos) 
in Greek, (and we know the importance attached to their 
names by neurotics), means ‘one-who-makes-water- 
again and is so used in an epigram of Martial (III. 78) — 

‘ Minxisti currente semel, Pauline, caritia. 

Meiere vis iterum? Jam Palinurus eris.’ 

‘You have made water once, Paulinus, while your boat 
was moving fast. Do you want to pumpship again ? Then 
you will Palinurinate’ (i.e. will fall overboard). 

These words ^ovpetv, mingere, meiere, possess as 
well a sexual significance and this opens up possibilities 
of a deep analysis on Freudian lines, should time permit 
— and funds be available. 

^ Cape Palinuro soon acquired a reputation for shipwrecks. 
The Roman Fleet met with disaster there in 253 B.c., and again 
in 36 B,c. Horace also had a narrow escape. On the summit of 
the headland (home of primula Paltnurt) are visible some 
ruins which are popularly known as the Tomb of Palinurus, 
The promontory, through which runs Lat. 40®, retains its 
ancient name. 

138 



INDEX 


mention of author's name 


qu— quoted uithout 
fn— footnote 

Abrasax, 114 
Adler, J., 15 
Air-conditioning, 50 
Alcohol, 37, 62, 89, los, 120 
Andalusian Dog, 1 17-19, 125 
Andrews, Mara, 46-47 
Angst, anxiety, 4, 26, 29, 38, 
40,43-5,52-3,56,63-4,69, 
89; Enemies of 95-6; De- 
parture of 102 
Ants, 49 

Apollinaire, 124 51/ 

Apollo, 9, 67, 134 
Approaching forty, 86, 87, 89, 
95 

Apuieius, 62 qUf %ifn 
Aristippus, 9, 27 /«, 67, 73, 
102 

Aristotle, 113, 119, 120 
Arnold, Matthew, 8-9 
Art, artist, i, 16, 52, 56, 73, 
87,92-3,114 
Auden, W. H., 114 
Autunm, 12, 17-18, 33, 79, 81, 
52 - 3 , 95 , 107, 124 
Bakunin, 100 

Baudelaire, 2, 10, 21, 25, 41, 
46 qu^ 64, 78, 80 qu, 100, 
107 121 (pi 

Beckford, 10 
Behaviorism, 29^, 32 
Bentham, 106 
Binet, 49 
Blake, 91 , 0 


Bournemouth, 63 
Brillat-Savarin, 58 
Broad Bean, 49, 67, 102 
Browning, 67 qii 
Bruy^re, La, 2, 10, 30, 38, 40 
Buddha, Buddhism, 6, 14, 15, 
16,17, 19, 20,26,29,31,34, 
100 

Buffon, 2 
Byron, 2, 10, 19 

Caillois (Roger), 49 
Cannes, 69, 84 
Cave-weddings, 81, 98, 129 
Celine, 35 
Chainfort,6i,73-8 
Chateaubriand, 75 
Chelsea, 24, 69 
Chien^idalou, 117-19, 125 
Chirico, 93 

Christianity, 6, 7, 9, 17, 20, 

23,32,40 

Christmas, 24, 47/« 
ChuangTsu, 14, 16, 56, 91 
City life, 35 

Civilization, 48, 50, 105, 115; 

anditsSscontents, 122 
Coctssa, 47, 72 
Comte, 106 
Congreve, 9, 67 
Comrdi<^, 20, 30, 99 
Cievel,Ren^,46-7 
Crosby, Harry, 46r7 
Cycle ofthe Hours, 71 


^9 



INDEX 


Dali, 117, 

Decadence, 50, 54 
DefFand, Alme du, 38, 45 
Devine, Dr., 119-30 
Dining out, 68 
Dionysus, 9, 37 
Donne, 17, 41 
Douglas, Norman, 35 
Drugs, 36, 72 

Dryden, ix, 10, 81 qu, 103 qu. 
Appendix passim 
Duality, 1 13-14 

Egotism, 70, 85 
Eliot, T. S., 92, loi 
Ennoia, 98—9 
Ennui, 33, 41, 45, 53, 105 
Epictetus, 60, 67 
Epicurus, 14. fn, 27, 29 /n, 60, 
67, 106, 1 14 

Ferrets, 90, 108-9 
Flaubert, i, 10, 21, 40, 55, 68, 
73, 78, 82, 93, 94, 96, 102, 
114, 115 

Fontaine, La, 2, 3 qu, 10, 40, 
67 

Fontenelle, 50 
Forster, E. M., 38 
Fox, 10 
Frazer, 8 

Freud, 8, 23, 39 /n, 70, 100, 
121-2, 138 
Friendship, 16, 38 
Fruit, 34,91, 123 
Fuller, 136 

CSavxinis, He de, 98, 125 
Gibbon, 10 

Gide, 48, 1 14, 1 17, 122 
Giles, 16 
Gloire, La, 22 
Gnostics, 1 13-14 

140 


God, 69, 106 
Goethe, 10, 35, 115 
Groddeck, 103 
Group Man, 27 

Halifax, 10 

Happiness, 35, 37, 47, 119-20, 
121— 4 

Heard (Gerald), 53 
Heidegger, 86 

Hemingway, 23, 85; Fiesta^ 
108 

Heseltine, Philip (Warlock), 
46 

Hitler, 35 
Holbach, io6 
Homer, 35 

Horace, 2, 9, 10 qu, 28 qu, 40, 
67. 73. 86 qu, 9a, 94, 95 /b, 
102, 138 

Housman, 16, 79 ga 
Hudson, W”. H., 112 
Hume, 10, 67 
Huxley (Aldous), 53 

Id, 8, 23, 68, 118 
Incarnations, previous, 9 
Insects, 37, 49 

He Saint-Louis, 47, 60, 69, 
108, 125 
Isis, 81, 1 16 

James, Henry, 17, 21 , 94 
James, William, 22/n, 106 
Jesus Christ, 12, 13, 34, 100, 
Ii5» 

John die Baptist, 14 
Johnson, 38 
Jouhandeau, 64 
Joyce, 21, 98 

Kant, 38 

Kierkegaard, 29/n, 46, 67 



INDEX 


Kitzbuhel, 88 
Klee, 15 

Knight, W. F. J., 133.136 
Kretschmer, zgfn 

Lao-Tsu, 17, 31 10^. ”4 

Larbaud, V., 108 gii 
Laziness, 20, 30, 58, loi 
Lempriere, ix 

Lemuria, festival, 102; lost 
continent of, 1 12-13 
Lemurs, 9, 62, 71, 90, iii-i3> 
I2S 

Lenin, 116 

Leopardi, 2, 21, 22, 25, 41, 
60 qu, 67 
Lewis, C. S., 99 
Loco-weed, 31 
London, 9, 43 
Lorca, 48 

Love, 3-5, II, la, i9. 24. a6, 
41-2 ,51,37. 60, 6 i,77, 8o-i 
Lucretius, 8 qu, 17, 102 gu, 
10$ gu 

Magic, 32 
Mahomet, 15 
Mahommedans, 7 
Mallarm^, 56 
Mantis, 49/^ 

Marriage, 5, ii, 12, 16, 18, 25, 
36,52,62 
Martial, 138 
Marx, 35 100,106 
Masterpieces, i, 2, 93, 94 
Masterplay, 4°. 54» 9^ 
Matisse, 48 
Melons, 9, 72,89,91 
Middle Way, 27, 34 
MiU,io6 

Miller, Henry, 35. 46 
Mirabeau,74»75 
Mis^re, 22 


Molifere, 56 gu, 62 gu 
Money, 106 

Montaigne, 2, 27, 29, 32, 54, 

73.78,94. 

Morbid mind, 120-4 
Morley, 75 

Myth, 40, 54, 98, 99, 114. 116, 
.122 

Nature, 104, 105, 123 
Nerval, Gerard de, ro, 49“So> 
66 

Nietzsche, 26, 78, 121 
Novelists, 20-1, 78 

Obesity, 25, 58 

Opium, 36, 37, 47> 48. $8. 7* 

Orpheus, 70 

Ovid, 102 

Paganism, 8, 9 
Pantheras, izfn 
Paris, 9, 24, 35. 44. 47 60, 

62, 69, 73, 82-4. 90. 107-10. 
117-18 

Pascal, 21-3, 25, 3^. 387 4^. 

67,73,91, 216 gu 
Pavlov, 100 
Petronius, 9, 13, 87 
Picasso, 48, 93 

Plane Tree, 10, 12, 62, 72, 81, 
95, no, 224 

Pleasure, 5, 67, 68, 70, 87-8 

Poe,23ga 

Poets, 2, 21 

P<^, 2, io, 88, 96 

Proust, 17, 21, 23, 25, 43 S*. 

67 

Pydiagoras, 102 

Quince, 48, 67, 72, 95» 102 
Qainc^, de, 36, 47» 72. 79 
84 



INDEX 


Rabelais, (Transfretom la 'Se- 
quane)^ io*j qu 
Racine, lo 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 4 
Renoir, 2, 43 
Religion, 7-8, iz-ij 
Rimbaud, 2 

Rochefoucauld, La, 2, lo, 23, 
41 , 78, 103 
Rochester, 9 
Romantic Love, 39, 118 
Rouault, 93 

St. Cassien (Arluc), 125 
St. Evremond, 10 
St. Jean-de-Luz, 85 
Sainte Beuve, 58-60, 68, 69, 
73, 77-8, 80, 94, 103, 104, 

123 qu 

Salba Dtikka, 19,79 
Santayana, 119 
Schopenhauer, 10 
Serenity, 16-17, 124 
Sermon on the Mount, 14, 94 
Servius, ix 
Shakespeare, 25, 54 
Shaw, 100 
Siagne, 125 
Sickert, W., 15 

Society, 25-6, 51, 68, 91, 122- 

124 

Spinoza, 17, 119, 123 
Spring, 17, 33, 46 
Stalin, ICO 

State, the, 26, 36, 38, 39, 55, 
xoi, 124 

Steele (Richard), 5 
Stekel, 64 
Stendhal, 10 
Stone Pine, 10, 112, 125 


Suicide, 45, 46, 46-7 /«, 60, 
61, 62, 70, 74-6, 124, 137 
Surrealism (see also an Anda- 
lusian Dog), 35, 80, 84, 96-7 
Swift, 10 

Taoism, 14, 15, 16, 17, 59, 67, 
91, 97, 104, 1 14, 122 
Tao te Ching, 12, 17, 31 qu 
Tennyson, 10 
Thibaudet, 114 
Tibullus, 9, 40, 59, 73, 78, 102 
Toulon, 48, 62, no 
Two-faced Truth, 1 13-14 
Two faces, 41, 56, 69, 70 

Unquiet Grave, The, 60, 89-90 

Valery (Paul), 56 
Vanity, 20, 30 

Vegetable Kingdom, 37, 49, 
91, 102, 105 

Virgil, ix, 2, 9, 40, 92, 98 qu, 
too qu, izs qu. Appendix 
passim 

Voltaire, lo, i6, 17, 32, 39, 40, 

67. 1 15 

Waley, Arthur, 38 
Walpole, Horace, 10, 38, 45 
Watson, 100 
Will, the, 10, 123-4 
Women, 18, 81 
Woolf, Virginia, 21 

Yeats, 26, 43 qu 
Yellow Emperor, 16 
Yin and Yang, 97 

Zostera Marina (sea salad), 87